iPhone in Holyland

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Israelis are now among the world’s heaviest cellular Internet surfers.

Just before December 2009, when the first estimates of iPhone sales in Israel were released, many wondered: Would the demand in Israel match supply?

At one point, each of the three cellular service providers – Pelephone, Cellcom and Partner – made a commitment to Apple to sell 70,000-80,000 phones a year. That means that on every business day of the year, each of the three must sell around 260 phones. This is a logical possibility, given that each company operates around 350 sales points in Israel. As iPhone advertising is dropping here, this is perhaps an indicator that the firms are meeting their targets and therefore cutting spending on advertising.

An analysis of the media advertising for the iPhone conducted for TheMarker by Ifat Advertising Monitoring in January indicates that advertising in all media dropped to NIS 3 million, compared to NIS 8 million the month before, when the product was launched in Israel.  Since then, iPhone advertising has been decreasing gradually, and by April iPhones were featured in ads and commercials whose total value was only around NIS 80,000.

Meanwhile, use of cellular Internet services on the iPhone continues to grow – contrary to the forecasts. In February, Pelephone subscribers who are iPhone owners had a data traffic rate of 350 megabytes a month. That is 100 times as much as regular 3g phone owners and 10 times as much as other Smartphone owners.

The assessment was that the extent of data traffic among iPhone owners would decline within a matter of months to around 200 megabytes per month, since most iPhone buyers in the early stages were early adopters, whose data traffic rates are higher than average.  The same thing happened in the U.S., where about eight months ago, monthly usage totaled an average of 400 megabytes and today is around 250 megabytes (according to Consumer Report ).

Based on data received by TheMarker, average monthly consumption in Israel stabilized over the past two months at 425 megabytes per month, which makes the Israeli iPhone user one of the world’s heaviest users of cellular Internet service on the product. In effect, data traffic on iPhones today is 6.5 percent of data traffic on the cellular Internet – compared to less than 10 percent generated by all the other cellular services combined (cellular modems, used to surf on laptops, account for 85 percent of data relay on the cellular Internet ). Given the fact that the number of iPhones in Israel does not amount to 10 percent of all Smartphones, this is a huge amount of surfing.

More Hebrew applications

One reason, says a senior executive in the cellular phone industry, is the impressive growth in orders for Hebrew applications, in addition to relatively broad surfing packages that are marketed to iPhone subscribers by the cellular phone operators.

The senior executive estimates that with the launch of the new iPhone software in the summer, which will enable the use of multiple programs and applications, surfing rates will increase.

The iPhone and similar devices, redefined cellular surfing. “Before the iPhone, I had a Nokia Smartphone, with a large and comfortable screen, but I didn’t’ find myself surfing as much as I do now,” says Doron Leibovich, the CEO of Starvision, which builds Internet sites. “Beyond the intuitiveness, the many new and revised versions of applications prompt me to surf beyond the usual uses.  I already have 80 applications and based on what I see around me, that is not considered a lot.

Increased use of iPhones and comparable phones is intertwined, of course, with the tools they offer. According to a senior cellular phone industry executive, most data traffic on iPhones in Israel is used for video consumption and the rest for Internet surfing. A substantial share of it is done using applications such as Facebook, Rest and price comparisons on Zap.

Adi Diament, a partner in and founder of  iLoop, the community of  iPhone developers in Israel, notes that with time, in addition to applications that are essentially a gimmick, there have been a growing number of applications for information consumption and entertainment in Israel, some of which gobble up data traffic: “Alongside applications for video content, such as the popular television show ‘Eretz Nehederet‘ (“It’s A Wonderful Country” ), there are also free navigations services such as Waze, which consumers approximately one megabyte for surfing 30 minutes.

more in Ha’aretz

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