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Google's flagship phone, the Android-based Nexus One.  (Source: Slashgear.com)
Put major strain on network capacity

An industry study has found that Android users gulp up more data than other smartphone consumers, Reuters reports. Coupled with the fact that -- as Google VP of Engineering Andy Rubin claims on his Twitter -- Android is activating 300,000 devices per day, the handsets threaten strain wireless network capacity.

The study, conducted by mobile network management software company Arieso, used the iPhone3G as a "normalized benchmark" for comparison against users of newer smartphones, such as the BlackBerry Bold 9700, the Google Nexus One, the HTC Desire, the Sony Ericsson Xperia, and the Apple iPhone 4. 

It found that iPhone 4 users make 44 percent more data calls, download 41 percent more data, and spend 67 percent more time connected to the network for data, compared to the iPhone3G. While exact figures for Android were not cited, the study says Google's mobile OS surpassed even those of the iPhone 4. And Android users score highest in both uplink data volume and downlink data. "For example, Samsung Galaxy users typically upload 126 percent more data than iPhone3G users, and HTC Desire users download 41 percent more data than iPhone3G users," the study said.

According to Reuters, the increase in data traffic is due, in part, to better photo and video cameras -- editing and sharing the high-res images and video.

"When more could be done, more tends to be done," Arieso CTO Michael Flanagan told Reuters. "Smartphone subscriptions are rising and so too is subscriber appetite for mobile data. It's a trend that's set to continue."

One trend that has remained flat, however, is voice calls. This suggests that newer smartphone users are increasingly using their devices for data first, in lieu of making calls.

"Operators must now be able to quantify the impact of the devices they support, and how subscribers use them, and prepare their networks accordingly,” Flanagan said. "They are risking rising operational costs, and delivering a sub-par quality of service to customers. They must adopt a new, more precise approach to monitoring and optimizing their networks.”

"What operators are really suffering from is the fact that popularity of smartphones came too quickly," Lance Hiley, VP of market strategy at Cambridge Broadband Networks, told Reuters. Since the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, data usage has roughly doubled every year, straining wireless networks. With the rise of Android, that strain has only worsened.

Since hitting the market a little over two years ago on the T-Mobile G1, the Android OS has skyrocketed to global dominance. A recent Gartner report found Google's mobile OS to be the second-most ubiquitous in the world, trailing only Nokia's Symbian. And Android is doing even better in the important U.S. market, shipping 9.3 million units in the third quarter of 2010 alone, and commanding a 43.6 percent share of the smartphone market. Even Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has publicly expressed his favorable opinion of Android, predicting that it will soon beat the iPhone in the smartphone war. With Rubin's latest claim of 300,000 units activated per day, that prediction is quickly becoming a reality.

Android's success, as Wozniak also points out, is due to the open-source nature of the OS. He liked Android and smartphones to the success of Windows on PCs. Android's pervasiveness across carriers and manufacturers has bolstered its ability to outsell the competition, and its knack for customization has endeared it to casual users and developers alike.


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What you really mean is..
By GreenEnvt on 12/9/2010 9:09:43 AM , Rating: 2
What you really mean is android users are more efficient as using the data they paid for?




RE: What you really mean is..
By quiksilvr on 12/9/2010 9:18:09 AM , Rating: 3
Or that most Android users AREN'T tied down to one network and therefore overall use more data amongst 4 carriers total instead of just 1?


RE: What you really mean is..
By theapparition on 12/9/2010 9:29:43 AM , Rating: 3
This study is nebulous at best, since it doens't really give any hard statistics, just approximations. However, I believe this is on an individual basis, so multiple carriers don't affect the analysis.

I will say that I do believe the intent of the study is correct though, that Android users use more data. Android has active widgets that are constantly updating, something that iOS don't have. Plus devices with bigger screens (Evo, Galaxy S, Droid X, etc) beg for more web browsing than that puny screen on the iPhone. Finally, having a device that can access the whole internet, including Flash, allows users to do more (ie use more data).

Even though the report had a negative spin (more Android users will put capacity strain on resources), I believe it is a win, as it proves that you can do more with Android, and people are taking advantage of that.


RE: What you really mean is..
By mcnabney on 12/9/2010 9:31:34 AM , Rating: 2
So what you are saying is that Android users consume more data because they are on other networks which aren't as bogged down as AT&T.

Makes sense. Apple might possibly have the most demand, but the AT&T network can't deliver the bytes. An interesting spin on Apple losing the data access crown.


RE: What you really mean is..
By beerhound on 12/9/2010 10:51:10 AM , Rating: 3
That comment is spot on if they are measuring the total traffic different models of phone are generating. It doesn't hold up if they are measuring data use per user of a given model.

If all the Galaxy S phones across all the networks are using more data than all the iPhone 4s, no surprise there. More phones, more networks, more data use.

Hypothetical:
If the average use per phone is higher, it certainly does make a difference. The study is using the iPhone 3GS as a benchmark, so to keep the math simple, let's assume the 3GS is using a Gb of data per phone. The iPhone 4 uses 41% more, so 1.41 Gb.

The article doesn't give specifics, but it says Android users download and upload more than the 3GS or the 4. Now the question is, are they comparing total volume of all subscriber data use or they comparing average volume of each user of a phone?


RE: What you really mean is..
By omnicronx on 12/9/2010 12:16:06 PM , Rating: 2
They are just doing DATA/USERBASE based on carrier data and breaking it out by phone/usage type to be more specific within the study..

I'm not too surprised by these findings consider Android has long been approaching iOS in website usage studies. (in which they are basically cheating as pages reload when you go back to them (switch tabs etc), even if you looked at it seconds ago.)


RE: What you really mean is..
By Omega215D on 12/9/2010 9:26:38 AM , Rating: 2
I'm curious at how much data is being used on the Verizon network. People keep saying that if the iPhone comes to Verizon there will be service disruptions like there are on ATT. Then again it won't affect me much because I only signed up for the $15 data plan and spend most of my time on WiFi instead.


RE: What you really mean is..
By R3T4rd on 12/9/2010 9:27:15 AM , Rating: 2
So..basically what this study is showing is that Cell Phone Carriers networks are not efficient enough to support what the phones and plans that they are marketing? Really? I never knew that.


RE: What you really mean is..
By StealthX32 on 12/9/2010 10:08:20 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
What you really mean is android users are more efficient as using the data they paid for?


You're mad if you think all users are allotted X amount of data without the expectations that most users will come way under. Pricing reflects that too...if VZW/TMo/ATT/Sprint built networks to actually support 5GB/user/month, you'd all be paying double or triple what you are now.

What happened the Obama's big plan? Lets get some govt subsidies up in here... Oh wait...


RE: What you really mean is..
By Boze on 12/9/2010 10:35:42 AM , Rating: 3
I take something completely different out of this article that it seems like no one has yet mentioned... and that is that Android users are more likely to be far more technologically savvy than iPhone 3GS / 4 users. Any technologically savvy user is going to be capable of utilizing their technology to a greater degree than someone who has a rudimentary or casual understanding of said technology.


RE: What you really mean is..
By Iaiken on 12/9/2010 11:57:26 AM , Rating: 2
Things I routinely do with my phone(as a tech savvy user):

- Administer my own forums servers
- Check, moderate and post on said forums
- 25+ RSS feeds
- Access files from work and home on demand
- Internet radio

Things that my phone does that iPhone simply cannot:

- Administer my Mumble server
- Log into my Mumble server and talk to my friends on it
- Flash player (it's a bandwidth hog dontchaknow?)
- Sync my contacts across my phone, work e-mail, and numerous home e-mail accounts.
- Remotely swap around small iTunes playlists (that's right!)
- Video call over 3G network :P

That's just the tip of the iceberg... I do most of the crap that normal people do on their phones too... chat, FaceBook,
search/browse, etc.

The only thing I wish it had that it doesn't, is a front facing camera... which is on my requirements list for next time.


RE: What you really mean is..
By Anoxanmore on 12/9/2010 4:27:12 PM , Rating: 2
I can has your old phone?


RE: What you really mean is..
By Boze on 12/9/2010 6:11:23 PM , Rating: 2
Your honor, the prosecution rests.


RE: What you really mean is..
By priusone on 12/9/2010 2:14:51 PM , Rating: 2
That, or Android users have better signals in more places. When I switched from a 2G T-Mobile, G1, to a 3G Verizon, Droid, I found myself using my Droid a lot more than I did my G1. When I was in town and around T-Mobiles 3G towers, I would use my G1 more, so maybe the data usage differences between the 4G and the Android may have something to do with getting a better connection. I do realize that the data has increased from the 3G to the 4G, but who knows, on a better network or with a better antenna, the data rates may increase even more.


This whole article is misleading crap.
By DarkElfa on 12/9/2010 9:27:16 AM , Rating: 3
It compares the whole of Android using devices against a single phone.

How does Android do against the entirety of iOS? That includes the iPad, iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS.




RE: This whole article is misleading crap.
By mherlund on 12/9/2010 9:56:10 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
It compares the whole of Android using devices against a single phone.

That's what I thought at first too, but once I read the article, it did compare phone to phone, not Android to iOS (or iphone 4 or 3g only).

From the article:
"For example, Samsung Galaxy users typically upload 126 percent more data than iPhone3G users, and HTC Desire users download 41 percent more data than iPhone3G users,"


RE: This whole article is misleading crap.
By DarkElfa on 12/9/2010 10:08:30 AM , Rating: 1
So how do those individual phone do against iPhone 4?


RE: This whole article is misleading crap.
By theapparition on 12/9/2010 10:54:04 AM , Rating: 2
It's black and white right there in the article.

Study used iPhone 3G as baseline. iPhone 4 users used 41% more data than iPhone 3G users. Galaxy S users used 126% more data than iPhone 3G users.

In bar chart form that would be:

iPhone3: |||||||
iPhone4: ||||||||||
GalaxyS: ||||||||||||||||


By Omega215D on 12/9/2010 11:35:47 AM , Rating: 2
Oh dear god... the bars! make them stop with the bars!

=P

well, considering this is about data on cellular services I guess it's right at home here.


By JakLee on 12/10/2010 7:26:45 PM , Rating: 2
Android - More Bars in More Places


By Iaiken on 12/9/2010 12:18:51 PM , Rating: 2
Seriously?

Did you even make an effort, all of the answers to your stupid questions were in the original source article.

All of the published numbers were in a data/user by phone in text in plain English.

That means that the average Galaxy S user uses significantly more data than the average iPhone4 user.

Make an effort next time.


By cjohnson2136 on 12/10/2010 2:32:09 PM , Rating: 2
For starters you cant compare an android phone to an iPad.

Second it doesnt matter if they are comparing phone to phone because they are saying the average usage per android user what type of phone is illrelevant. Because they are taking the average it doesnt matter that android runs on 20 some different phones because all in all it will come down to what each user uses per month compared to what an iPhone 4 user uses. It is not talking about a total data usage


Those poor carriers...
By LeftFootRed on 12/9/2010 11:23:44 AM , Rating: 2
..and those wicked android consumers. Clearly from this article, 100$/mo for a cell phone plan w/ data is putting the carriers in a real bind.




What do they think will happen
By Dr of crap on 12/10/2010 8:55:14 AM , Rating: 2
If they are goin to sell phones like this what did they think would happen? Maybe they didn't plan for the inrush, OK I get that. But to call them data hogs! If you offer a product, you better get the backup to support it.

Don't supress the ability to use the product with data caps, try and open up the network, so that you get MORE people to sign up on YOUR network.

Maybe they can't expand their network any faster, or the pipline can never get to that usage level?? In that case you'll lose people and money, so they keep that secret!

Just thinking our loud.




So
By room200 on 12/9/2010 9:38:02 AM , Rating: 1
So, wateva, wateva. I'll do what I want. (in the voice of ghetto Cartman).




"So, I think the same thing of the music industry. They can't say that they're losing money, you know what I'm saying. They just probably don't have the same surplus that they had." -- Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA














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