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03.06.2015

Data and SMS: a portrait of the European mobile user

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Benedict Evans is an expert analyst who often publishes big headlines like this one: 75% of Vodaphone messages in the UK are sent through Snapchat. In May, Evans released other important information relating to mobile use: 25% of European customers use more than 1GB of data, and Spain is the country (of those analyzed) with the least SMS consumption. At the other end is Turkey, where the average user sends more than 200 a month.

What are the habits of the European mobile user?

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The statistics presented here only correspond to Vodafone, and were offered during its latest report for 2015. However, given the international presence of Vodafone, the information derived from this report can give us a pretty good idea of reality among all users.

The first thing that should catch our attention is the increasing use of data, as demonstrated by the chart above — there is no country where this figure shows a downward trend. In Spain, the average data usage is almost 500 megas. Second, is the strange distribution of SMS: while texting in countries such as Spain and Germany has practically died, in Italy, UK, Portugal and Turkey it remains relevant.

In Spain the average user sends less than 20 SMS per month. For the UK the average is 150, in Portugal 200, and Turkey is approaching 250. Spain is the European country with the most WhatsApp use and in Turkey SIM packages/deals offer up to 1000 free SMS monthly. Something similar is happening in United Kingdom: operators like Giffgaff – an innovative subsidiary of O2 – offer ulimited SMS across the UK. Giffgaff is also known for having all its customer support done by its own users on their web forums.

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Another curious fact about Snapchat: on average a user in the UK consumes less than 400 megabytes per month, but sends messages via Snapchat, an app with an interface that uses a lot of data (the messages use video and photos, and the app is opened directly to launch the camera). In fact, last February, users complained about heavy data usage, including when the app is not even open.

From SMS to data: apps are changing the landscape

As some say, “we are at the end of an era. Spanish operators decided not to follow the in the steps of their international counterparts when it comes to rates, and, despite there having been bonuses and flat rates for SMS, it was not enough to compensate for maintenance of this form of communication,” they previous article says, “or to curb the use of WhatsApp and other messaging services (KakaoTalk, SnapChat, etc.) that have taken over the world and will continue doing so.”

The trend among these companies is to eliminate the superfluous (for example, the SMS messages we don’t use) and focus on calls and the Internet. There are now SIM card packages that sell just that: lots of data (even unlimited) 3G or 4G. With WhatsApp calls and voice memos, will voice calls be the next to disappear and operate only via app?