Thursday, August 11, 2005

Text Messages Finally Catching On in U.S.

The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) writes about the growing popularity of text messaging. According to CTIA, "4.7 billion text messages were sent in the U.S. last December, the latest figures available, compared with 2.1 billion a year earlier and 253 million in December 2001. Forrester expects text messaging revenue to reach $4.3 billion in 2006 from $2.5 billion in 2004.

Compared to other regions, the U.S. is still behind in text messaging. "CTIA estimates that in 2004, U.S. cellphone users sent 203 text messages on average, or 37 billion in total, while in China, cellphone users exchanged 651 per user, or 218 billion in total, according to the Chinese information industry ministry. Forrester's Charles Golvin commented that "About 71% of European cellphone users send text messages, more than twice the percentage in the U.S."

One of the reasons given by the slower uptake in the U.S. is due to it being a voice-centric market. Most calling plans include "large bundles of voice minutes, plus unlimited off-peak and weekend minutes. Often there's no cost to make an additional phone call but for most it costs an additional charge to send a text message."

The article also cites an earlier survey of 5,200 adults by the Yankee Group that found "33% of Americans between 25 and 34 text-message regularly, up from 24% in 2004. The rate of text messaging by people between 35 and 44 remained about 25% in both years, while usage by 18- to 24-year-olds grew to 62% from 52%."

Linda Barrabee, a Yankee Group analyst, said "As more older consumers join in, text messaging will be a major driver of overall data revenue for cellphone carriers over the next five years."

Personally, I don't text even though I subscribe to Cingular's all-you-can-eat data plan that includes something like 1,000 text messages amonth. I have an email and IM client and use them primaarily. Then again I'm not the target audience...

via Russell Beattie Notebook