Consumers' hunger for data showed no signs of abating in 2013.
That's according to a report published Monday by Chetan Sharma, a consultant for wireless carriers. American consumers used an average of 1.2 gigabytes a month over cellular networks this year, up from 690 megabytes in 2012. Worldwide, the average was 240 megabytes a month, up from 140 megabytes last year. A megabyte is roughly equivalent to the amount of data needed to download a photo, part of a song, or a handful of e-mails.
So what factors are driving this trend? To Sharma's mind, it's due in part to the "meteoric rise" of mobile apps, especially on Android. Apps created for the Android platform began to match Apple in downloads this year, though Sharma notes that Apple "easily wins in the revenues category."
Also causing the surge in traffic was the advent of bigger screens in devices such as the newest generation of iPhones. Another factor is the rise of fourth-generation network technology, known as LTE, which is purportedly 10 times faster than its predecessor 3G, according to The New York Times's Brian Chen, who first reported on Sharma's findings.
Perhaps the most notable impact of the surge in mobile Web traffic is its impact on e-commerce. During the holiday season, Sharma says, mobile made up 17 percent of online sales, up 55 percent from last year.