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Wireless enabled smartphones and tablets – convenient and expensive

Apple’s wireless enabled tablets and smartphones are consuming up to three times more mobile data than the average – why?

A recent comScore survey of smartphone and tablet owners in the U.S. and U.K. shows that iPhone and iPad users consume more mobile data than Android users. With unlimited mobile data usage plans almost non-existent now and expensive and meagre pre-paid allowances sold by Australian Telcos (unless you get an expensive plan) it is time to take stock of how you use mobile data.

First off - no it is not dastardly plot by Apple to rip more dollars from its ecosystem (really) but more a usage pattern issue. Apple users tend to be more easily lured into surfing the net, opening larger images, updating facebook images etc. Perhaps they are more, and more affluent, users than Android owners that can afford to use 3G or 4G wireless.

The survey (apologies that I can’t give you a link as it is copy protected) shows in the US/UK 71/87% of Apple users compared to 32/57% of Android users consume mobile data. comScore said that due to the insatiable demand for mobile data Telco’s would not be lowering prices anytime soon – demand drives prices up and supply is unlikely to cater for the expected demand.

iPad users with 3G connections used more data than 4G connections but that is an availability issue – 4G is not everywhere.

What is clear is the rapidly increasing number of apps that use mobile data as well as media trends to play music or view streaming video are ‘byteing into allowances’. If you don’t have an app to measure mobile data use its time to visit your app store or contact your Telco.

Opinion:

Forgive my not being able to provide statistics but in my extensive testing with iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone for the “Week with” series published in iTWire I got the gut feeling that iOS was more frequently using data, followed by Android and then a long way behind was BlackBerry and Windows Phone (although that could be explained by BlackBerry and Windows Phone having fewer apps and more off-line navigation systems etc).

Call it intuition but while the former OS do tend to default to using data the latter seem more determined to let you know when an app is sipping from the expensive data cup.

I also noticed that in comparable business use of a Windows 8 Pro Tablet with 3G and an iPad with 4G that the data usage was significantly higher for the iPad - no it is not statistically accurate but empirically observed.

In reality we are just growing complacent – it is too easy to use mobile data instead of find a Wi-Fi hotspot.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!