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Smartphone Users Gobbling Up More Data Amid Growing Use of Streaming Music

Average monthly smartphone data use reached 6.6GB per month, up 20 percent from a year ago.


The increased use of music services such as Pandora and Spotify has led to a significant rise in the amount of data being used by the average smartphone.

According to a new NPD study, consumers’ average data use in the fourth quarter was 6.6 gigabytes per month, up from 5.5GB a year ago. But that data is being used over a mix of cellular and Wi-Fi networks, allowing most users to make do with much smaller amounts of cellular data.

“While this increase in data usage came from a variety of activities, a key driver has been the adoption of streaming music services such as Pandora and iHeart Radio,” NPD said in a report. Some 52 percent of American smartphone users use at least one streaming music app, NPD said. That’s up from 41 percent a year ago.

Pandora remained the most commonly used music app, followed by iHeart Radio, Spotify, TuneIn Radio and Slacker Radio, though all saw gains last year.

“Considering the increase in prominence of smartphone music apps, it’s not surprising that hardware manufacturers such as Beats are leveraging partnerships with carriers, like AT&T to break into the streaming music market,” NPD’s John Buffone said in a statement. “This allows AT&T to offer subscribers more of what they want in the way of innovative music apps and provides Beats a partner capable of driving trial in a market where consumers already have an affinity for the music services they use.”

The report also noted the continued strength of Apple and Samsung, which both saw their share of the market grow. The iPhone’s share of the U.S. market increased to 42 percent from 35 percent a year ago, while Samsung Android phones now make up 26 percent of smartphones owned, up from 22 percent a year ago.

Their gains came at the expense of HTC, Motorola and BlackBerry, among others.

Overall, six in 10 Americans now have smartphones, up from 52 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012, NPD said.

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