Mobile
Commentary
12/18/2007
02:51 PM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
Commentary
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Report: People Will Send More Text Messages Next Year Than This Year

Gartner took quite a leap of faith in predicting that SMS usage in 2008 will top 2007's numbers. In fact, Gartner goes so far as to say that the number of messages will top 2.3 trillion worldwide. That's an average of 767 messages per mobile subscriber over the course of 12 months. I think we can all do better than that.

Gartner took quite a leap of faith in predicting that SMS usage in 2008 will top 2007's numbers. In fact, Gartner goes so far as to say that the number of messages will top 2.3 trillion worldwide. That's an average of 767 messages per mobile subscriber over the course of 12 months. I think we can all do better than that.First some facts and figures. Gartner estimates that about 1.9 trillion messages were sent this year and next year will see 20 percent growth to reach the 2.3 trillion mark. In line with increased usage, network operators should expect to see their messaging revenue climb about 16 percent from $52 billion in 2007 to $60.2 billion in 2008. Not a bad chunk of change.

What's most interesting is the usage patterns of messaging services. Gartner notes that the least amount of growth will come from Europe, where use is leveling off and may even reach its zenith this year. North America, on the other hand, will see significant growth. We're expected to send more than 300 billion messages, up from 189 billion in 2007. That means North America alone will account for roughly 25 percent of the growth in message use in 2008.

"The market is being driven by increased penetration of users, more frequent usage of peer-to-peer messaging, and unlimited and bucketed messaging plans," said Tole Hart, research director at Gartner. "There has also been some uptake of mobile e-mail via POP3 mailboxes and mobile IM service, but it's very small compared with the uptake of SMS. These services are used primarily as an extension to a PC. However, the market is seeing a number of consumers using BlackBerry and Palm Treo devices to access address books, phone numbers and e-mail."

Asians, though, will continue to be the leaders in sending messages, flinging some 1.7 trillion of them at one another next year. Korean teens alone send over 60 messages per day. North America's 300 billion pales in comparison.

In order to reach 2.3 trillion messages in 2008, every single cell phone user needs to send 64 messages per month, or about two per day. That sounds like a piece of cake. The reality is that many hundreds of billions of people won't send any messages at all, and the rest will take up the slack. People between the ages of 15 and 30 will likely account for the majority of all messages sent.

And as my colleague Stephen Wellman pointed out, this begs the question. How many of those SMS messages will be sent from people who are too chicken to break up with someone in person or even over the phone?

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