Chetan Sharma: U.S. mobile data revenues on pace to reach $90B in 2013

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Data now drives close to 44 percent of U.S. mobile industry service revenues and is poised to eclipse the 50 percent threshold later this year, according to new research from Chetan Sharma Consulting.

The U.S. mobile data market generated more than $20 billion in service revenues for the first time during the fourth quarter of 2012, up 3 percent quarter-over-quarter and 15 percent year-over-year. Mobile data revenues for the full year topped $79 billion, a figure Sharma projects will increase to $90 billion during 2013. Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) raked in $28.2 billion in data revenues in 2012, ahead of AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) at almost $26 billion--the two operators combined now account for 69 percent of data services revenues nationwide .

Source: US Mobile Data Market Update Q4 2012 and 2012

Overall average revenue per user declined $0.15 during the fourth quarter of 2012: Average voice ARPU declined by $0.64, while average data ARPU increased by $0.48 or 2 percent quarter-over-quarter. Smartphone data consumption at some operators now averages close to 1 GB per month, with some devices averaging close to 2 GB per month. "As we move into 1 GB range along with the family data plans kicking in, you can expect the data tiers to get bigger both in GBs and dollar amount," Sharma notes.

Smartphones accounted for almost 84 percent of all devices sold nationwide during the fourth quarter. Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone dominated U.S. sales in 2012, representing 59 percent of all smartphones sold by the top four operators during the fourth quarter, fueled by the launch of the iPhone 5, and accounting for 51 percent of all smartphone purchases throughout the calendar year.

"So, while globally, Android dominates iOS more than 2:1, the U.S. subsidy model has helped Apple keep its lead from Android," Sharma states. "But, will it last? Undoubtedly, Samsung and others have caught up Apple on device specs and ease of use, even created new categories that Apple didn't foresee, but Apple is still the player to beat in 2013."

For more:
- read this Chetan Sharma Consulting report

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