Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Can trillions of text messages sustain mobile operator revenue?

A trillion is a really, really big number. 

For instance, there are a trillion stars in the Andromeda Galaxy:

Photo by write_adam on Flickr

So don’t give up on text messaging just yet – especially in the Asia-Pacific region.  In 2011 there will be 7.5 trillion text messages sent, up from 6.7 trillion in 2010, says Ovum Research. Revenue is growing too, up 8 percent year on year to USD 153 billion.

Great news, right?  

Well, the Ovum report was actually a downer.  From

An Ovum analyst stated that consumers are expected to prefer Internet-based messaging over traditional modes, and the trend is expected to be driven by various factors, including rise in smartphone penetration, low-cost data plans, increasing third-party messaging providers, and messaging services from device vendors such as RIM, Apple and Nokia.

But trillions of messages do not disappear overnight, especially in an Asia-Pacific region that accounts for almost half of the world’s texts, with no decline in sight.

So there remains time both for making traditional texting profitable and for operators to “claw back” market share in internet-based messaging. 


  1. So I see the long-term problem here - the internet is on the rise. But if short-term prospects are OK, why are telecoms so spooked? Why such fear?

    Don't they have enough profitable time ahead of them to figure things out?

  2. The number of mobile money users is predicted to hit 450 million worldwide by 2015, compared to just over 100 million today. Given that forty-two percent of these users will be in developing markets, where mobile money services are mainly SMS-based, maybe the writing isn't on the wall for text after all?

  3. So here in the US, Apple is shaking up the texting business today with its new free texting service. But this post makes a good point. For while Apple is good at shaking things up, and texting is going to eventually decline, this New York Times article says Apple devices account for only 5 percent of texts each year. So let's not panic. Though let's not get complacent either.

    The New York Times article:

    Adam T

  4. What about Apple’s impact? I keep reading that the new iOS5 with iMessage will be a “text killer,” taking all these fears to the next level. But it all seems like hype to me. I like the headline of this Telecom TV article: “Apple's iOS 5 is an SMS-botherer rather than a text-killer.” Couldn’t we say this about all the OTT services, both text and voice? Here is the most relevant part of the Telecom TV article ( ): “The point is that SMS is fast morphing into what consultant Dean Bubley describes as a function (Explanations: voice) not a service in its own right. And as a function it will maintain its value as an any-to-any messaging option, no matter what alternative messaging is available on various platforms. Its value is that it enables me to send a message, should I want to, to any phone (not just a smartphone) and that's what I'm really buying, not a text bucket with 600 texts in it. And anyway it's subsumed in the total cost of my package.”

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