Mobile is gaining ground as one of the world's most vibrant industries. Mobile data, applications and the entire industry that make up these devices and services will amount to US$ 1.3 trillion this year, and technology analyst Chetan Sharma say the industry will account for 2% of the global economy's output in 2011.

Mobile Data, Smart Devices

In a report, Sharma provides data and insights on the mobile industry and the challenges that various stakeholders will be facing. A big chunk of this activity can be attributed to mobile data, which is seeing a rapid rise this year. For the first time, revenue from mobile data will surpass the US$ 300 billion mark. This will also be the first time that non-messaging mobile data revenues will surpass that of messaging-related data such as SMS.

While the US still dominates the world in terms of revenues (both total and data-only), China leads in terms of subscriber count. Moreover, emerging nations are also appearing in the top 10 list of mobile consumers by revenue, including Brazil, India, Russia, Indonesia, Pakistan and Mexico.

Tablets Galore

Mobile revenues come not only from smartphones and mobile phones, but also from tablet computers. Apple is ahead in the industry, with its class-leading iPad. Google's Android is in second place with its plethora of devices from Motorola, Asus, Samsung and other manufacturers. Meanwhile, Microsoft would have to play catch-up once it launches Windows 8, rumored to have a Fall 2012 release. HP, which acquired webOS along with Palm, has released the TouchPad, but the small developer and application ecosystem makes it difficult for HP to make a big difference in the tablet market.

Application Marketplaces, the Mobile Ecosystem

The mobile application ecosystem is also on the rise, as evident with a 61% growth in application downloads for Apple's iOS alone. The average iPhone, iPad and iPod user will download 83 applications this year as compared with 51 apps in 2010. Apple has announced that 15 billion application downloads have been logged to date. Meanwhile, the average price per Apple app has risen by 14% to US$ 1.44.

The figure for Android app downloads is fast-growing, too, with 4.5 billion downloads logged in the past two years alone. And that's just from the official Android Market. Android is actually said to be the fastest-growing mobile ecosystem today.

Is Everybody a Winner?

With rapid growth rates, you might expect that everyone wins. It's not always a win-win scenario, though, especially for the mobile carriers. Mobile data is becoming more popular, and users are increasingly expecting to have fast connectivity at low prices. Sharma recommends that mobile carriers will need to take a holistic approach to managing data traffic, to maintain revenues and profit margins, while still satisfying the needs of data-hungry users.