YouTube owner Google has revealed an interesting statistic that may go some way to explain recent moves by mobile providers to enforce harsher limits on mobile broadband use: a three-fold increase in video views on mobiles in 2010.
The figures reveal that the video-sharing site is now receiving upwards of 200 million video views a day from mobile devices, with the majority of that traffic coming from smartphones.
Although the overall number of views is certainly impressive enough, the growth is somewhat staggering: during 2010, views from mobile devices tripled in twelve months.
Clearly, the world is embracing smartphones in a major way - and, while many will be enjoying the ability to view videos on their iPhone or Android handset at home via Wi-Fi, others are almost certainly checking out the latest uploads on their commutes and tea breaks using their mobile broadband connection.
That massive growth in mobile traffic in 2010, which it is fair to say is being reflected in other sites to a lesser extent, explains recent moves by mobile networks to introduce harsher limits on the amount of data smartphone users churn through - most recently exemplified by T-Mobile's announcement that its mobile data 'fair use' policy would be reduced to 500MB a month for all customers, a decision it has now reversed in the face of consumer backlash.
Broadband providers - whether mobile or fixed - have always over-sold their networks to maximise profits, promising far more network capacity than they can provide, safe in the knowledge that only a small percentage of their users go anywhere near their monthly download cap.
With the explosion in web-based video, however, the broadband providers have been caught unawares: suddenly, the majority of their customers are making heavy demands on their connection, a problem that is far more obvious on a mobile broadband connection with a 500MB cap than an ADSL connection with a 50GB cap.
With growth in the smartphone market showing no signs of slowing, and an increasing number of netbooks and tablets featuring integrated 3G modems hitting the market, it's clear that the mobile networks need to do something - but decreasing their 'fair use' limits is unlikely to help slow consumer demand for more and more data.