This text messaging train just keeps on running on its tracks. We reached 80 billion dollars worth of revenues out of mobile phone simple SMS text messaging last year (as reported by us long ago, and verified by the ITU stats). Now its clear this year we will pass the 100 billion dollar mark.
UDATE Dec 10 2008 - I've just published my annual statistical review about the overall size of the mobile industry for end-of-year 2008. All new numbers so if you are interested in the "big picture", you may want to read this blog entitled Trillion with a T: Newest Giant Industry is Mobile
NOTE - that blog covers all of the topics in this, older blog posting, so unless you want to read about the history of mobile, I suggest you hop over to the newer blog where the current numbers are discussed.
(For those who want to quote that as an official stat, you can quote TomiAhonen Consulting 21 Sept 2007 as its source for now. The official counts from Informa and ITU will come early in 2008 to confirm this number, but now the current 2007 figures and continuing strong growth trends make this number certain. Do spread the word, ha-ha)
How big is that? Take all of hollywood movie box office revenues worldwide. Add all of the global music industry revenues. And add all of videogaming revenues around the world. Even all those three together, we don't reach 100 billion.
All this from the simplest, easiest messaging technology, used actively by 1.8 billion people on the planet (nearly twice as many as use e-mail) who already average over 2.5 messages sent per day globally. Even Americans are waking up to the fastest method of communciation and the most private communication, SMS text messaging, as more than half of Americans now use SMS text messaging.
Even more, SMS texting reaches 3 billion mobile phones - thats twice as many people as can be reached via TV, and almost three times as many as can be reached via the internet.
We keep telling you readers, please understand the most widely used data application on the planet. It is addictive. Blackberries are totally irrelevant in the big scheme of things. Young adults maintain two parallel SMS communciations on two phones; are able to text blind, use the phone hidden under the sleeve to text in class and send texts late into the night long past bedtime.
Its not only kids, grandparents bypass the middle generation and connect with the grandkids - using SMS of course, as this is the communication tool of preference for the youth.
Business execs use SMS for time-critical and very sensitive communications, it is considered the most valuable communication tool by business execs in most advanced markets (apart from North America, which is still only experimenting with the fastest and most private form of business communication)
Oh, in absolute numbers, we'll hit about 2.8 trillion (yes you read that right, 2,8 trillion, thats 2,800 billion, or 2.8 million-million, or 2,800,000,000,000 text messages sent this year. Every one of them is a paid/billable/valuable message.
What is that per day? 8 BILLION texts sent every day. Or 92,000 text messages sent every second of every day.
We've reported that SMS is addictive. It WILL NOT die, it will not be supplanted by less-addictive and less powerful messaging such as email on wireless. (email is so last decade). So how was it last year? Texting did not "plateau" or taper off or slow down as many "experts" (mostly North American ones) claimed. No, of course not, it is ADDICTIVE as has been proven in university addiction studies from Belgium to Australia. SMS text messaging traffic grew - get this - 50% over the past 12 months ! Even with intense price erosion out of the big buckets of free texts, SMS text messaging revenues grew by a quarter from last year. What other industry worth in the tens of billions can claim 25% ANNUAL growth rates?
But yes, we can now confirm SMS hits 100 billion dollars of revenues this year. Quite a number. In 1991 when the first machine-generated SMS text message was sent, nobody in their right mind thought people would use this clumsy technology to replace speech and email. It was only in December of 1994 in Finland that the first person-to-person SMS text message was sent from a phone to a phone.
To understand SMS more thoroughly, and in context of mobile as the 7th mass media and most widely used digital technology see this article: Guidemap to the Goldrush.
Today, 13 years later, we're crossing the 100 billion dollar per year level of business out of this counter-intuitive technology.