Mobile devices are the most important device for roughly half of the world’s population, and its share of data usage continues to grow steadily. Mobile data traffic will continue its trajectory at a compound annual growth rate of 57 percent from 2016 to 2019. Last year’s mobile data traffic was 50 times the usage we saw in the year 2000. According to Ericsson, the average smartphone user is consuming 1.4GB of data every month. This will result in a total data consumption worldwide of over 1 zettabyte this year, which is 1 trillion gigabytes (although that might still be hard to comprehend). How are we consuming all that data?


Source: Ericsson Mobility Report 2015

We bet it has something to do with people watching millions of cat videos (a phenomenon that even has a dedicated Wikipedia page). Cisco estimated that over 75% of mobile data consumption will be accounted for by mobile video by 2020, an eleven-fold increase from today. Worldwide people are getting better (read bigger) devices suited for watching lengthier videos and soon 5G mobile internet speeds will make sure that buffering is a thing of the past. Video advertisers are noticing this transition as well and are increasingly pouring their ad dollars into mobile video ads, which will grow from a $3 billion business today to one of $7 billion in 2020. Especially as younger viewers spend more and more time on mobile devices and are outright canceling their cable TV subscriptions (a.k.a. cord-cutting) mobile advertising will be a necessity to reach certain demographics.


Source: Ericsson Mobility Report 2015

Another major factor in the growth of data consumption is our unquenching thirst to analyze and control ourselves and everything around us in real time with wearables and Internet of Things (IoT) devices. From our bodies to our microwaves, air conditioners, and toys, we’re hooking everything up to the internet in the coming couple of years and everything is generating and transmitting data. The smartphone will take on a new role as a network hub that connects the different devices and combines different sources of data. With the help of data science, marketers can utilize this to make better targeted offers, although privacy will need to be safeguarded as we discussed in our previous article.

The battle for the dominant operating system seems to have been won by Google when looking at market share. 84.7% of smartphones sold in the last quarter are running Android and a plethora of wearables and other smart devices run on adapted versions of the OS. The fact that people in emerging countries are ditching their feature phones for smartphones plays a big part in this number. This is reflected in the growth numbers for mobile data usage as well, the Middle East and Africa are forecasted to have the strongest growth in mobile data usage over the next five years increasing 15-fold with a 72 percent compounded annual growth rate. Second most growth will be seen by Central and Eastern Europe at 71 percent and Latin America at 59 percent. Asia-Pacific and North America will consume the most mobile data in 2019, equaling 39.1% and 15.7% respectively.


Source: 2015-2016 Trends & Predictions in Data, Apps and IoT

This enormous growth in data consumption will undeniably present large opportunities for companies in the ecosystem such as mobile advertisers, video publishers, and technology providers. As the smartphone becomes a hub for IoT devices in developed markets and often being the only device people go online with in emerging markets, companies cannot afford to have any other strategy than mobile first.