Smartphone use accounts for 65 per cent of all mobile cellular traffic worldwide, despite smartphone penetration running at just 13 per cent, according to research released today from Informa Telecoms & Media. Usage is set to increase exponentially over the next five years, Informa found, with average traffic per smartphone user increasing by 700 per cent by 2015.

Smartphone users across the globe currently average 85MB of traffic per month, with Apple’s iPhone proving the handset on which most traffic is generated. Devices running the Android OS sit behind the iPhone in terms of traffic generation, and the Google-backed OS will not overtake Apple in this metric, Informa said, because Android will be deployed across low-, mid- and high-user segments.

November 2, 2010 Written by Mike Hibberd

“The traffic disparity between smartphone and non-smartphone is most pronounced in NOrth America, where 86 per cent of mobile data traffic is currently generated by smartphone users,” said Malik Kamal-Saadi, principal analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media. Average traffic per user (ATPU) for smartphones is set to hit 776MB/month by 2015, Informa found.

Growth in Western Europe will also be impressive, hitting 736MB/month in 2015, up from less than 44MB/month in 2009. The highest use will remain in the advanced markets of Japan and South Korea, which currently average 199MB/month and 271MB/month.

Informa said that it had devised the ATPU metric in a bid to help the industry “measure the potential of new services and revenue streams such as mobile advertising.” The analyst firm said that ATPU could also be used by operators to judge the popularity of competing OS platforms and ecosystems.

With this in mind the firm predicted that Apple’s iPhone will remain the highest traffic-generating platform, with 196MB/month for 2010, because of its quality of user experience and its high end market positioning. Other platforms are catching up, however, with Android ATPU currently sitting at 148MB/month and likely to exceed 757MB/month by 2015. While Android’s performance is diluted by the platform’s breadth of deployment, some high-end Android handsets have already seen ATPU of more than 200MB/month.

Informa’s figures to not take into account wireless data traffic generated by laptops or tablets on the cellular network, nor smartphone traffic over wifi networks.