announced at the CTIA conference today that mobile data traffic surpassed voice traffic worldwide at approximately 140,000 Terabytes per month at the end of last year.The mobile phone's days as primarily a phone were short lived. Global mobile company Ericsson
GigaOM's Stacey Higginbotham writes, "Worryingly, that data traffic was generated by an estimated 400 million smartphones set against 4.6 billion mobile subscribers making voice calls. What happens when everyone has a smartphone?" This is an historic moment in terms of both technical capacity and the development of innovative features to serve mobile users.
The mobile industry is just coming to terms with this "tsunami of data" and the challenges it poses. Tricia Duryee wrote last year on MocoNews that two years ago none of the mobile companies would admit they faced a shortage of capacity, but that changed dramatically at the CTIA conference last year. In calling for more wireless spectrum, Qualcom co-founder Irwin Mark Jacobs said last year, "In the lab, we've done everything we know how to do to optimize spectrum. We have to use different tricks now."
These tiny computers trying to use the spectrum that phones have traditionally used for voice are real game changers. As Duryee again reported last year, one smartphone equals 30 feature phones on a network, and one netbook or aircard equals 450 feature phones.
It's not just about capacity, either. As mobile search specialist Peggy Anne Salz wrote last Summer, there's a whole lot of feature development possibilities opening up because of this data:
"The advance of Internet-specific smartphones and the spread of app store schemes turns up the pressure on mobile operators (and their content providers) to decipher data transactions (on and off the network), combine it with location and demographic data and use the results to create a 360-degree view of the individual."
Hopefully that will mean cool new features to serve users, not just mobile profiles to follow us around and target us with ads. So far smart phones have treated us pretty well though, haven't they? They certainly aren't just phones anymore.
Don't miss the ReadWriteWeb Mobile Summit on May 7th in Mountain View, California! We're at a key point in the history of mobile computing right now - we hope you'll join us, and a group of the most innovative leaders in the mobile industry, to discuss it.