Feature Article

October 04, 2013

Mobiles Now Represent 20 Percent of All Media Consumption

U.S. mobile users now consume about 20 percent of their media on mobile devices, about 500 percent more than they did in 2009. And though most consumption continues to happen on fixed media or physical media (TVs, PCs), users are spending as much time on mobile as they are on the traditional online devices of desktop PCs and notebooks.

In fact, mobile was the only media type to grow in total U.S. consumer minutes spent per day from 2010 to 2012, according to Business Insider.

That might have greater direct implications for content and application providers, but the indirect implications for mobile service providers are clear enough: users are going to consume more bandwidth.

Precisely how much more mobile bandwidth consumption occurs will depend on a number of things, including the availability of Wi-Fi offload mechanisms. 

Image via Shutterstock

Most studies already suggest that most smart phone video content consumption already occurs on Wi-Fi networks. Should that trend continue, there will some amount of increased demand for mobile network bandwidth, but possibly most demand for “fixed” access in out of home settings, as most offloaded demand now occurs when mobile devices shift to at-home Wi-Fi networks.

Also an issue is the volume of video consumption that happens on tablets, which tend to be used in a tethered but not mobile context, compared to smartphones that arguably will be more used when users are out and about and moving.

Still, the Business Insider study says “one key trend is that not only are consumers watching more videos on mobile devices overall, they're also sticking to their mobile devices for longer periods of time while watching.”

That will have direct implications for app providers able to sell ads or otherwise monetize that attention, and indirect implications for most access providers. The exceptions are that tier-one mobile providers might have enough scale to create branded content services that generate revenue directly.

Facebook, for example, now generates 41 percent of its ad revenue from mobile venues. Some would note that Facebook generated zero such revenue when it went public.

Mobile broadband services are growing fast, with global revenue on track to nearly double between 2012 and 2016, according to Infonetics Research. The issue is how much of that growth comes from customers getting Internet access for the first time, and how much is created by users buying more-expensive usage plans.

Edited by Alisen Downey

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