Is Siri a data hog? New study finds iPhone data usage soaring.

iPhone 4S data rates are soaring, and Siri, the new voice-controlled personal assistant from Apple, could be responsible. 

Siri, shown here on an iPhone 4S, is helping to drive up data usage, according to a new report.

The iPhone 4S is burning through twice as much data as the iPhone 4, and almost three times as much data as the iPhone 3G, according to a new study from tech management firm Arieso. And in an highly-cited interview with Bloomberg, Michael Flanagan, the author of the study, is blaming much of the spike on Siri, the voice-controlled personal assistant introduced on the iPhone 4S. 

"Voice is the ultimate human interface," Flanagan told Bloomberg. 

According to Arieso, iPhone 4S users are the "hungriest" data consumers in the world – but users of other smartphones, including handsets driven by the Android OS, aren't far behind. All that data usage could be bad news for carriers and consumers, Arieso warns.

"The introduction of increasingly sophisticated devices, coupled with growing consumer demand, is creating unrelenting pressure on mobile networks. The capacity crunch is still a very real threat for mobile operators, and it looks set to only get harder in 2012," writes study author Michael Flanagan. "The mobile industry needs new investment and new approaches to boost network performance and manage the customer experience." 

So is Siri really to blame for the spike in data usage? Well, over at The Next Web, Matthew Panzarino isn't so sure. In a long post, he advises readers to take the Arieso report with a grain of salt – especially as pertains to Siri's role in all that network traffic. 

"Remember that the iPhone 4 numbers that the iPhone 4S is being compared to are from 2010. That’s before Apple introduced its iCloud backup services at all, which can be hundreds of megabytes in size," Panzarino writes. "iTunes Match, Photo Stream, iMessage and all of the other data hungry iCloud services are likely a huge part of the increase from over a year ago... The entire smartphone using population uses more data now than in 2010, hands down." 

For more tech news, follow us on Twitter @venturenaut. And don’t forget to sign up for the weekly BizTech newsletter.

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