Smartphones have changed the way that people consume data over the past several years. It used to be that if you were waiting for an email, you had to use a computer to check for its arrival. If you wanted to update a personal blog or check out what was going on with your friends on Facebook, it required logging in on the computer. Need the latest sports scores or stock quotes? You guessed it, computer. The world has moved on from a computer being a requirement. Of course, the smartphone hasn't replaced your laptop entirely, but so much of what used to require a computer can now be done completely on a device that fits in your pocket. It's no surprise that a recent Nielsen report showed that the average smartphone user is now consuming 89% more data per month than they were just a year ago.
As a result of this trend, many leading carriers are moving to usage-based data plans for smartphones. What does this mean for you? If you were lucky enough to be grandfathered into an unlimited data plan, it may not mean much (yet). However, if you aren't one of those fortunate ones, or if you switch providers in the future, you may need to pay very close attention to how much data you are consuming on your device to avoid extra charges at the end of the month.
You may be thinking to yourself "I don't need to worry about that. I only use my phone for texting grandma and calling the kids at college." If so, then great! You probably don't have much to worry about. However, most of us are a different story, constantly using our phones for Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, visiting our favorite blogs (*cough*CrackBerry.com*cough*), sending and receiving emails - the list goes on. No matter what platform you choose, smartphone users are consuming more and more data, and there is no sign of that trend stopping.
This is a great time to own a BlackBerry. Beginning with the first devices RIM produced, data compression was part of the design. These days they call this DataSmart technology, and every BlackBerry has it. DataSmart technology, including data compression, works a lot like zipping large files on your computer. When you use data on a BlackBerry smartphone, it's almost as if the data is zipped up before it's sent or received so it's smaller.
When the BlackBerry browser accesses a Web site, it sends a request to a server at the RIM network operations center (NOC). The data server in the NOC retrieves the requested resource either via its own cache or directly from the Web server and returns the requested content to the device. The server also saves bandwidth by compressing the information being passed to the device.
This means whether you are using email, social networking, or browsing the web, your BlackBerry is working with you to keep data usage down.
The same Nielsen report referenced above took a look at data usage broken down by what platform consumers are using. The trends for the past year can be seen on the graph above. After analyzing cell phone bill data for 65,000 smartphone users, it became clear that while most other smartphone owners are using more and more data, BlackBerry owners are remaining fairly consistent in their usage. Is that because BlackBerry users don't check their emails, or use social networking, or browse the internet? Of course not. It's because of the more efficient way that data is used on a BlackBerry. And efficient data usage is the key to effortlessly staying within the allotted amount of data on your plan.
Sources: Nielsen, BlackBerry DataSmart, Rysavy Research