iPhone5Smartphone penetration and data plan usage rose to new heights in the U.S. over the past year. While Apple and Samsung have come to dominate the U.S. market for smartphones, adoption of streaming music services was a key driver of growth in data plan usage, according to new market research from The NPD Group.

Smartphone penetration rose from 52% in 4Q 2012 to 60% in 4Q 2013, according to NPD’s Connected Home Report. Apple iPhone ownership rose from 35% to 42% over the period, while Samsung Android smartphone ownership rose from 22% to 26%. Fewer survey respondents reported owning smartphones from HTC, Motorola or BlackBerry in 4Q last year.

At the same time, consumers’ data usage rose from 5.5 GB to 6.6 GB per month. Among the variety of mobile broadband services contributing to growth, NPD Group analysts singled out growing adoption of streaming music services as a key driver.

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“While Pandora remains the most commonly used music app in Q4 2013, it is followed by iHeart Radio, Spotify, TuneIn Radio, and Slacker Radio, all of which experienced an increase in incidence of usage over the past year,” according to a press release.

The percentage of smartphone owners that use an app to stream music rose from 41% in 4Q 2012 to 52% in 4Q 2013, according to NPD’s Smartphone Usage Report.

“Considering the increase in prominence of smartphone music apps, it’s not surprising that hardware manufacturers such as Beats are leveraging partnerships with carriers, like AT&T to break into the streaming music market,” NPD executive director and industry analyst for Connected Intelligence John Buffone was quoted as saying.

“This allows AT&T to offer subscribers more of what they want in the way of innovative music apps and provides Beats a partner capable of driving trial in a market where consumers already have an affinity for the music services they use.”

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