The mobile data market in the U.S. reached $18.6 billion in the fourth quarter, up 19% from a year ago and 4% from the prior quarter, according to the latest research from mobile consulting firm Chetan Sharma. For all off 2011, U.S. mobile data revenue totaled $67 million, accounting for 39% of overall wireless revenue. Chetan Sharma projects mobile data sales will grow to $80 billion in 2012.
Smartphones continued to sell at a brisk pace in the quarter, making up 65% of all devices sold. U.S. carriers are deriving about 80% of contract sales from smartphones with Android dominating, though the “iPhone leads in mindshare,” noted the report. Not surprisingly, Verizon and AT&T dominated the U.S. wireless landscape, claiming 68% of mobile data service revenue and 66% of the subscription base.
AT&T was the leader in net customer additions in 2011 despite losing its iPhone exclusivity. The carrier was responsible for half of the overall 5.1 million net-adds last year. Verizon, however, was tops in adding net contract subscribers—the most desirable customers from an operator perspective—partly because of it getting the iPhone last year. Verizon also maintained its No. 1 ranking worldwide in mobile data services in 2011 ahead of NTT DoCoMo, with $23.7 billion in revenue.