ABI Research has said the Middle East was the only region to report a 'meaningful' positive growth in terms of using mobile phones for voice calls during the first quarter of this year. Mobile email and OTT mobile apps such as Whatsapp, Viber, and iMessage have been altering the underlying behaviours of mobile end-users which is impacting usage patterns, said Ying Kang Tan, research associate at ABI Research. During the quarter, minutes of use (Voice) per user showed the greatest declines in North America (-5.3%), Asia-Pacific (-0.6%), and Western Europe (-0.4%). "The only region with any meaningful positive growth is the Middle East (3.5%)," Tan said. In contrast, mobile data traffic continues its rapidly ascending arc, with 2012 expected to close out with 69% growth to 13.4 Exabytes. "While there is considerable interest in 4G, 3G subscriptions continue to grow because most low-tier and mid-tier handsets are 3G, whereas 4G will remain a premium product for the next couple of years," the report said.