IDC Says Verizon Is Now the New U.S. Market Leader on Mobile Data Spending Per Customer Basis Among the National Carriers

FRAMINGHAM, MA – JANUARY 23, 2007 – There are more than 229 million U.S. wireless subscribers who are spending an average of $6.00 per month on data services according to the latest IDC research. Customer spending on data services contributed a total of $4.1 billion in revenue for 3Q06. IDC says messaging contributed nearly half the data revenue, while business- and consumer-oriented services and content constituted about 40%, and content and simple application downloads came to about 12%. Of the top ten wireless carriers, IDC research indicates that Verizon prevails as the new leader on data spending-per-customer basis.

"Our research found that at $7.27 spent per-customer on data services in 3Q06, Verizon Wireless became the new market leader among the national operators, eclipsing Sprint Nextel, the long-time leader in this metric at $7.15," says Julien Blin, research analyst for IDC's Wireless and Mobile Communications program. "Among the national carriers, Verizon Wireless is today the overall leader in data services in terms of total wireless data revenue, data percentage of ARPU, and data spending, although Sprint Nextel and the other national carriers continue to lead in select services."

Within the paid downloads category, ringtones remain the most popular type of content bought and downloaded onto mobile handsets. In fact, IDC research shows that about 20% of U.S. subscribers currently purchase at least one ringtone every quarter, therefore making ringtones the leading contributor to paid download revenue. IDC predicts that the total volume of ringtone sales in the U.S. market will approach the 1 billion mark by 2010, up from about 430 million this year, and by then more than a third of all U.S. wireless subscribers and customers are expected to purchase at least one ringtone every quarter. Associated revenue will increase at a healthy compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of roughly 20% between 2005 and 2010 and top well over one and a quarter billion dollars by the end of the forecast period. In terms of ringtone types sold on a unit basis, master track tones remains the predominant type of ringtone sold today.

"Master track ringtone sales continue to rise in popularity, and more than half of all ringtones sold today are of this variety. Continued support from leading record labels, media companies, and brands will remain a factor driving future sales," added Blin. "While direct-to-consumer ringtone sales are likely to continue to grow in the next few years, other innovative strategies and technologies such as superdistribution, enhanced mobile search, music recognition, and bundles are likely to become important elements in the market."

More detailed information about the future of the wireless ringtone market can be found in IDC's U.S. Wireless Ringtone 2006-2010 Forecast and Analysis (Doc #204805).

This IDC study, U.S. Wireless Carrier Data Services 3Q06-3Q07 Vendor Analysis: QView Summary and Analysis (Doc #205832), presents a competitive analysis and summary of the data services and content types offered by the top 10 wireless carriers (based on subscriber/customer base) as well as an aggregated view of the rest of the market for 3Q06 through 3Q07. Standard industry operating metrics — including subscriber/customer totals, net additions, ARPU, churn, capital expenditures, service revenue, and minutes of use — for the operations of U.S. carriers are used as a framework to support IDC's evaluations and assessments of the current state of the wireless data services market. This study is a companion to and summary of IDC's 3Q06-3Q07 United States Wireless Data Services QView.

To purchase this document, call IDC's Sales hotline at 508-988-7988 or email

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