Messaging is Still King; SMS Retains Crown
The worldwide mobile messaging market was worth US$179.2 billion in 2010, will pass US$200 billion in 2011, and break US$300 billion for the first time in 2014 says Portio Research.
Among mobile messaging services, SMS has consistently claimed the top spot and has long helped mobile network operators significantly offset the effect of falling voice revenues. What is remarkable is not just the US$114.6 billion that SMS generated worldwide in 2010, but rather the significant role that SMS will continue to play in revenue terms in the coming years.
With the changing dynamics of the mobile industry and growth trends therein, there are of course signs that one day SMS will no longer be the king of non-voice revenues and we envisage that the growth of worldwide SMS revenue will slow post-2011.
But SMS has seen legendary success. It has generated revenues for operators worldwide of approximately US$585 billion since it was invented in the mid-1990s. According to their forecasts, Portio calculates that it is still set to earn those mobile networks another US$726 billion over the next five years, to year-end 2015.
After this time, the future of SMS becomes less certain. For now, MNOs should focus on the fact that SMS will generate more than US$1 trillion over the next seven years.
MMS, first launched with the unrealistically high expectations that it would mirror the success of SMS and hampered by technical problems and over-pricing during its early years, retained its status as the world's second most popular messaging service in 2010. MMS generated US$32.5 billion of revenue worldwide, a year-on-year increase of over 23 percent, while traffic totalled some 249 billion MMS, representing y-o-y growth of more than 47 percent. Hopefully this performance forever banishes the long-held industry misconception that MMS is a 'failure'.
Mobile e-mail and mobile instant messaging (IM) are gaining popularity among subscribers. The initial growth of mobile e-mail was driven by the enterprise segment, but lately - with the upsurge in smartphone penetration, adoption of advanced networks providing high-speed Internet access, discounted and unlimited data plans, improved interoperability and newer messaging solutions - the consumer segment has also started gaining momentum, with the effect that the gap between enterprise and consumer segments' shares of the total mobile e-mail user base is gradually shrinking.
By end-2010, there were 480.6 million users of mobile e-mail services worldwide, and this customer base will have nearly quadrupled come end-2015. Worldwide revenues from mobile e-mail surpassed US$25 billion in 2010 and are projected to cross US$82 billion by end-2015.
Portio's new research finds that the worldwide mobile IM user base stood at 311.2 million in 2010. With MNOs making conscious efforts to enhance the IM experience through additional features to make IM services more attractive and popular among their subscribers, user levels will rise to 1.6 trillion over the next five years. Worldwide mobile IM revenue stood at US$6.8 billion in 2010, representing year-on-year growth of 53 percent; annual MIM revenue is forecast to cross US$31 billion by end-2015.