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Verizon Wireless outpaces Sprint Nextel in data ARPU

Verizon Wireless subscribers spend more on mobile data than customers of any other U.S. carrier, according to new data from IDC.
The market research firm found Verizon Wireless users spent an average of $7.27 per month on data services in the third quarter of 2006, outpacing subscribers of Sprint Nextel Corp.-the longtime leader in data ARPU-who rang up $7.15 in monthly data charges. The average U.S. subscriber spent $6 a month in data charges, racking up a total of $4.1 billion in data revenue during the quarter.
Messaging contributed to nearly half of overall nationwide data revenue, IDC said, while business- and consumer-oriented services accounted for nearly 40 percent of spending. Content and “simple application downloads” represented 12 percent of data spending.
Ringtones, which accounted for the bulk of content revenues, will continue to thrive, IDC predicted. U.S. consumers will buy nearly 1 billion ringtones annually by the year 2010, the firm said, up from about 430 million this year. Other analysts disagree, however, claiming ringtone sales have largely plateaued as tech-savvy users learn to cut mobile music clips from personal music libraries.
“Master-track ringtone sales continue to rise in popularity, and more than half of all ringtones sold today are of this variety,” said Julien Blin, a research analyst for IDC’s Wireless and Mobile Communications program. “While direct-to-consumer ringtone sales are likely to continue to grow in the next few years, other innovative strategies and technologies such as super-distribution, enhanced mobile search, music recognition and bundles are likely to become important elements in the market.”

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