US Mobile Market Update – Q3 2014


  • The US mobile data services revenue exceeded $25B for the first time and increased 23% YoY and 7% QoQ. The US market will easily exceed the $100B mark in data revenues in 2014 thus becoming the first nation to do so.
  • Verizon became the second operator after China Mobile to cross the milestone of 100 Million postpaid subs.
  • The average mobile data consumption (cellular) crossed 2GB/mo. In the US, it took roughly 20 years to reach the 1GB/user/mo mark. The second GB mark has been reached in less than 4 quarters. An entire year’s worth of mobile data traffic in 2007 is now reached in less than 100 hours.
  • From 2010 to 2013, the data pricing declined by only single digits YoY. However, in the first 9 months of 2014, the data pricing has plummeted by 77%. It is having an impact on the industry financials which might help clear the way to further M&A in the US market.
  • Smartphone penetration increased to 72% and roughly 93% of the devices sold now are smartphones.
  • Samsung suffered one of the biggest mobile revenue and profit declines in its history. As the dominant leader of the Android ecosystem, it is caught in the middle of two major trends that ironically enough Samsung had influenced.
  • After a relatively quiet year, Apple had a blockbuster quarter with new product introductions. The expected bigger screen device arrived and was an instant big hit. It is going to do really well in Q4. The 6+ was in severe short supply and in Q3, the ratio of 6:6+ was 10:1 in the US market.
  • Apple also introduced two new products – Watch and Apple Pay. While it is too early to figure out the overall impact of Apple Watch (it clearly will put some Swiss Watchmakers out of business), Apple Pay appears to more disruptive. Apple’s classic approach of embracing the ecosystem and thinking end-to-end might finally disrupt the otherwise staid financial sector.
  • 4th wave services continue to grow at a very past face around the globe. We expect 37 companies to be generating a billion dollar or more from 4th wave services in 2014 – a 311% jump from 2012.
  • T-Mobile recovered all of its postpaid losses since Q3 2009. At its peak, T-Mobile had cumulatively lost almost 5 million subscribers. However, in the last 4 quarters, the 4th place operator has added over 4.5M subs to recover in a dramatic fashion. Sprint on the other hand lost postpaid subs for the 11th straight quarter.
  • Due to its strong performance, T-Mobile has narrowed the gap with Sprint to roughly 1M subs. As expected, Sprint launched a series of price cuts to counter T-Mobile’s uncarrier moves to recapture the value share of the market. The Sept and Oct numbers show that Sprint has improved its performance but will it be enough to maintain its #3 spot that it has had forever?
  • The US market had the best net-add quarter in a decade and probably the 2nd best quarter in the history of the US wireless market.
  • The net-adds rebounded strongly in Q3 2014 on the back of strong performances by Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile. The ratio of non-phone to phone net-adds was 1.66. 62% of net-adds were connected devices.


Your feedback is always welcome.

Chetan Sharma

We will be keeping a close eye on the trends in the wireless data sector in our blogtwitter feeds, future research reports, articles, and our annual thought-leadership summit – Mobile Future Forward. The next US Wireless Data Market update will be released in Feb 2015.


Disclaimer: Some of the companies mentioned in this paper are our clients.