Sore thumbs? US text messaging declines

May 02, 2013 by Peter Svensson

Americans are saying goodbye to text messaging, a wireless industry group says, as Internet-based applications such as Apple's Messages are starting to taking over from what was once a cash cow for phone companies.

CTIA—The Wireless Association says Americans sent 2.2 trillion text messages last year, down 5 percent from 2011. That's still 19 text messages per person per day.

Text messages vaulted into the mainstream in 2007, despite often costing 10 cents each. Costs came down quickly as phone companies started selling monthly "bundles" of texts. Now, many phone companies give text messaging away for free as part of a plan that mainly meters the amount of data used. That has helped stave off mass migration to Internet chat applications and Facebook messaging in the U.S., making the decline somewhat surprising, said Pamela Clark-Dickson, an analyst with Informa Telecoms & Media in Britain.

In countries where phone companies have kept the cost of text messaging high, the use of chat applications such as WhatsApp has exploded. Informa estimates that the number of messages sent through such services worldwide exceeded those sent by text last year.

The text message, or Short Message Service, was created in France and Germany in the 1980s as part of the specification for the "GSM" digital cellphone standard. The first commercial services appeared in Europe in the '90s.

Clark-Dickson said text messaging will likely remain popular as a way to communicate with people who don't use chat applications. In addition, businesses have started using it as a way to communicate with customers.

"At this point, SMS has still got quite a lot going for it," Clark-Dickson said.

Explore further: Why the SIM card has had its day

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Inexpensive fun fuels text messaging growth

Jan 31, 2007

Fun technology coupled with economical pricing fuel young adults' burgeoning use of text messaging, according to new research conducted by the DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University.

Recommended for you

Why the SIM card has had its day

Mar 05, 2015

The small microchips known as "subscriber identity modules" or SIM cards that are required for mobile phones to log on to a phone network will soon be 25 years old. While mobile phones and network technology ...

The UK doesn't yet need net neutrality regulations

Mar 04, 2015

The net neutrality debate in the US has ended, at least for now, with the Federal Communications Commission ruling for stricter regulation of telecoms and internet service providers (ISPs) in order to maintain ...

Italy adopts plans to shift into Internet fast lane

Mar 04, 2015

Italy's government adopted a six-billion-euro plan Tuesday to modernise its Internet network and improve access to broadband in hopes of shedding its reputation as one of Europe's online laggards.

Phone firms and the quest for the 5G Holy Grail

Mar 03, 2015

Lightning-quick downloads, driverless cars and remote surgery: telecom firms are racing to develop a new generation of "5G" mobile networks that could start to change the world in five years.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.