It appears we are relying on our smartphones more and more these days. Currently, 37 percent of mobile subscribers are using smartphones. Some very interesting statistics have been derived from these users, and they may have implications on the entire mobile phone provider industry.

Over the past 12 months, mobile phone data usage has grown by 89 percent from an average of 230MB per month to 435MB per month. What is even more amazing is heavy data users, those in the top 10 percent of data consumption, have seen even more of a jump. Their data use is up over 155 percent. In Q1 of 2010, the average heavy data user was consuming 1.8GB, and in Q1 of 2011, their data use jumped to 4.6GB.

All of this data was compiled by the Nielsen Company, who examined the phone bills of over 65,000 people every month over the past year. These bills showed how much data the mobile user has consumed compared to the month before. Much of the data increase has been attributed to app friendly operating systems, such as the iPhone and Android. According to the Nielsen report, they call this data increase a “Mobile Data Tsunami.”

Even though data usage has nearly doubled over the past year, users are paying the same as a year ago, which makes the cost per megabyte of data drop. Last year, the cost was 14 cents per megabyte and this year it has dropped to 8 cents.

However, over 25 percent of smartphone users are not using any data on their smartphones, which means people are purchasing these devices and not using them to their full potential. This equates to almost 20 million smartphone users. These people are only using their phones for voice calls and text messages. This may indicate the need to educate consumers on all the features of a smartphone, or making sure retailers are helping people purchase the device that is best suited for their lifestyle.

An interesting fact to point out, Android owners use more data than iPhone users. The average Android owner uses 582MB per month and the average iPhone owner uses 492MB per month. I personally wonder if this has something to do with pop culture and marketing. The iPhone may have more appeal; therefore they are purchased and not used to their full potential.

Personally I find all this information fascinating, as I enjoy social statistics and trends. It will be fascinating to watch how the data use jumps next year, as smartphone operating systems become faster and more appealing to the mobile user. It will also be interesting to see how this will impact providers and whether some of the current data caps will need to be adjusted or removed completely.

If you would like to read more on the Mobile Data Tsunami research, the complete article may be found here.

What are your thoughts? Does this report reflect your mobile phone use habits? Leave a comment below and let us know!