Every once in a while I wander over to eMarketer to see what sort of charts they've put out there for free. These charts above are pretty good - from a July report on Wireless Data Usage and a September report on Enterprise Mobility.
A couple neat quotes:
The US has traditionally lagged Europe and the advanced economies of the Asia-Pacific region (most notably South Korea and Japan) in adoption of non-voice mobile services, but this is beginning to change. eMarketer estimates wireless subscribers will number 168 million in 2004, of whom approximately 30% will use wireless data services and applications.
While the percentage of US wireless subscribers using data services may be starting to approach levels comparable to Europe, wireless operators in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region have seen greater earnings from data applications (rising as much as 20% of total revenues). By contrast, the figure was less that 2% in the US.
Very cool. The other day at BAMF, Romain David also pointed out something interesting that I hadn't realized before. In Europe, most carriers operate on a country by country basis. So making a deal with Vodafone Spain does not necessarily mean that you have any penetration into their other markets. The U.S. on the other hand is more unified. If you make a deal with Verizon, you suddenly have access to 40 million subcribers (subs). A similar deal with Cingular in a few months will bring similar numbers as well. That's access to half of all mobile users in the U.S. with only two carriers. And note in the first graph above, the U.S. has more mobile workers than Europe... this is an interesting market to focus on.
It's my opinion that wireless data usage in the U.S. is going to skyrocket now that all the carriers have unlimited data plans available. Though most mobile phone users are very price concious and therefore are not willing to spend $30 a month on unlimited data like I do, once compelling content starts to show up people will start looking for this sort of thing and market forces will start pushing on carriers to compete in this area as well. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised that by this time next year, most carriers offered a reasonable amount of data as a part of their normal voice plans.