With Wi-Fi usage swelling, thestreet.com's Olivia Oran writes that smartphones and tablets are "officially"(???) replacing computers as the primary way for consumers to access the Internet, with users turning more toward WiFi as an alternative to 3G networks.
Oran's source is a new report released by "cloud" networking provider Meraki [Meraki (may-rah-kee) is a Greek word that means doing something with soul, creativity, or love. It’s when you put something of yourself into what you’re doing.]
Don't be distracted by the fancy-shmancy name: Meraki is based in San Francisco, California, and is a privately held company backed in part by Google and Sequoia Capital.According to the stats, Apple's(AAPL) iOS and Google's(GOOG) Android comprised 58% of devices tapping WiFi networks in 2011, compared to 33% one year ago. Microsoft's(MSFT) Windows and Mac's OS X WiFi traffic, meanwhile, declined from 63% to 36%. (Note: Android could possibly slip and fall in the aftermath of Sunday's news headline "Hackers find new target in Android." Having suffered through a variety of Windows viruses and trojans, NO ONE IN HIS OR HER RIGHT MIND would want a smartphone that had issues with intrusions. NO ONE!)
Here's the snappy "Infographic" to support the findings:
Heavy data users will likely start limiting their use of expensive 3G and (eventually) 4G data packages offered by carriers like Verizon(VZ) and AT&T(T), who are scrapping their unlimited data plans in favor of tiered pricing models.
Verizon's new tiered data plan, effective July 7, will reportedly charge users $30 per month for 2GB of data, $50 for 5GB of data or $80 for 10GB. Users will pay $10 for each gigabyte if they exceed their monthly limit.
AT&T has a similar model, charging $25 for 2 GB of data or $15 for a 200 MB plan, and an extra $10 for each extra gigabyte.
The price of WiFi, in turn, is included through the purchase of bundled cable packages that include digital TV and voice. WiFi networks can also be accessed for free in many public places like parks, coffee shops and stores.
Since Wi-Fi networks are available at many public places (even my local laundromat has one open), it makes sense for users to bring their smartphones there, as using laptops would be a cumbersome process. It's not that the number of laptops accessing the Wi-Fi networks is not growing, it's just that the number of smartphones is growing at a faster rate.
"Once people get on metered data plans, they'll be checking their balance a lot to make sure they're using WiFi for large rich media downloads," said Gerry Purdy, principal analyst with MobileTrax. "Rather than downloading a 10MB attachment on the street, they'll wait until they get home or to a Starbucks(SBUX) or a McDonalds(MCD) where they have WiFi available."
Lucky me (I guess) - I'm grandfathered in on Virgin Mobile's Broadband2go UNLIMITED $40 a month data plan! The interetsing thing about it is that my lappy "sees" the VM USB module as a "modem" - which I guess you could argue it is, because it does have a telephone number assigned to it... Hmmmm...
And, while this is happening, Digital Chicken Littles are screaming "THE WEB IS SHRINKING!"
Really? *YaWn* click the "infographic" for more...
Tags: Google Android, Apple wi-fi
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