Dream come true is clogging wireless
September 24th, 2008

Business Week reports on how the spectacular increase of data use on smartphones — the industry’s “dream come true” — is creating a need to moderate consumer use. The increases in uses are steep:

For years, as the price of wireless voice calls plummeted, mobile-phone service providers longed for the day when consumers en masse would use their handsets for more than sending calls and the occasional text message. The industry is finally getting what it wished for.

Use of mobile e-mail, browsing, and downloads is on the rise as Americans snap up smartphones like the Apple iPhone 3G. An average owner of the new iPhone uses three times more data than a holder of even an older iPhone version, according to AT&T (T). And the phenomenon is much larger than Apple. People are buying Research In Motion’s (RIMM) BlackBerry devices, snapping up special cards that connect laptops to the mobile Web, and purchasing specialized mobile data-only devices like the Kindle, an e-reader from Amazon (AMZN) that wirelessly downloads books.

In the 12 months through June 2008, the number of Americans who had access to media-rich social networking sites via a mobile phone rose 93%, according to a survey of more than 30,500 U.S. consumers by research firm comScore (SCOR). About 58% more people sent photos with a phone than in the year before, and the number of Americans with an unlimited data plan rose 58%. “We’ve seen a significant acceleration [in data use] in the past year,” says Mark Donovan, a comScore senior analyst. . . .

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