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Smartphone users chomping more data, scanning more barcodes

Aug 8, 2011 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

The popularity of smartphones and media tablets will mean worldwide mobile connections will reach 5.6 billion by the end of this year, up 11 percent from 2010, according to Gartner. While related revenue will be up a higher 22 percent, providers will still struggle to recoup their costs, the research firm adds.

According to Gartner, data plans for mobile devices have moved from being a luxury, to a nice-to-have, to finally being perceived as essential. This is due to increased smartphone penetration, to the increasing number of tablets that have cellular modems, and to the fact that many users now prefer browsing or texting to making voice calls, says the research firm.

Gartner says worldwide mobile connections will reach 5.6 billion in 2011, up 11 percent from 5 billion connections in 2010. Mobile data services revenue will total $314.7 billion in 2011, a 22.5 percent increase from 2010 revenue of $257 billion, the firm adds.

Worldwide mobile connections will experience steady growth through 2015, Gartner forecasts. By then, mobile connections will reach 7.4 billion, and mobile data revenue will reach $552 billion.

Jessica Ekholm, principal research analyst at Gartner, stated Aug. 4, "Mobile data volumes will continue to grow as mobile data networks become faster and more ubiquitous. At the same time, the number of data users and data usage per user is expected to grow."

"Data revenue will continue to grow but at a much slower rate," Ekholm added. "This is causing a decoupling between revenue and data traffic, and it is also creating an increase in network costs for carriers as they try to sustain growing data traffic."

As many users have discovered to their cost, some carriers have responded by eliminating "all you can eat" data plans. Such plans may be a thing of the past, Gartner hints, suggesting that carriers will adopt "more flexible and more personalized data plans" instead.

In order to reduce customer churn, carriers should "look to offer increased flexibility in pricing and introduce add-on pricing models, in which users are able to add data access when they want to. These add-on pricing models could include paying for additional usage and additional speed, and charging a fee for voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) or for gaming," Gartner stated.

Ekholm added, "Carriers should focus on increasing the level of clarity and the transparency of their mobile data contracts in order to make the majority of customers feel more at ease. Offering clients various ways of being able to track and monitor their data usage would help carriers receive a larger amount of revenue from more profitable lower-usage, medium-pay users."

Barcode scanning is up, too

In another measure of non-voice cell phone usage, ABI Research says "millions of consumers" are scanning one-dimensional (1D) and two-dimensional (2D) barcodes using their smartphones' cameras. They're also displaying barcodes on their mobile phone/device screens at the point of sale (POS), point of purchase (POP), point of decision (POD), point of entry (POE) or point of transaction (POT), the research firm adds.

ABI's Aug. 5 statement didn't say what percentage of smartphone users scan barcodes. But of those who do, the majority scan 1D barcodes rather than 2D. Price tags are scanned 56 percent of the time, and product packages are scanned 63 percent of the time, the firm says.

Regarding on-device display of barcodes, cited examples are mobile git card applications offered nationally by Target and Starbucks, as well as mobile loyalty cards. ABI also makes note of "aggregator apps" such as CardStar, Key Ring, and others, which eliminate the need to carry countless loyalty cards or key fobs by store multiple loyalty card numbers in one app.

Further information

Gartner offers additional information in the report "Forecast: Mobile Data Traffic and Revenue, Worldwide, 2010-2015", which costs $1,495.

ABI Research offers more information in a 51-page Mobile Barcode Scanning study, whose price was not stated.

Jonathan Angel can be reached at [email protected] and followed at

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