Year-over-year smartphone penetration doubled to reach 21% of wireless subscriptions by quarter three of 2011, according to new research from Strategy Analytics (

Smartphones have stimulated healthy increases in non-SMS data revenues that continue to lift operator performance despite declining voice and static SMS market, says the research group.

“Over the last 12 months, while wireless ARPU fell eight percent and voice ARPU declined 13-14 percent, data ARPU increased by more than 5%,” notes Phil Kendall, director Wireless Operator Strategies, and author of the Strategy Analytics report. “Non-SMS services — which have become the real driver of growth — increased from 55% of data revenues in quarter three of 2010 to 61% in quarter three of 2011.”

Regionally, non-SMS data revenues grew to 54% of total data in Western Europe and 72% in North America. Sue Rudd, Director of Service Provider Analysis at Strategy Analytics, says: “Unfortunately smartphones are not a panacea and are accelerating the decline in SMS revenues as Over-The-Top (OTT) messaging platforms, such as Blackberry Messenger, WhatsApp and Apple iMessage, dramatically increase. As a result, SMS ARPU fell in all regions. Many operators face a tricky balancing act as they seek price points for data plans that are low enough to stimulate demand but high enough to compensate for SMS cannibalization.”