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Mid-Year Global Messaging Traffic Update

It is time for us to take a short assessment of the global SMS traffic statistics to see how this important part of the global ARPU equation is doing.   In my December blog entry, we noted that the world would finish 2009, with around 4.5-5 trillion SMS messages.  It did – 5.035 trillion to be a bit closer, according to Informa results.

So, will this growth continue for 2010?  I think so, and so far, results have not disappointed.  In Q1, 1.475 trillion messages were reported, according to Informa Telecoms & Media.   For Q2, it is too early for any results to be in, but my estimation is that we’ll bring in Q2 at about 1.56 trillion messages, with the vast majority of these coming from both Asia-Pacific (China, mostly) and USA/Canada (USA, mostly) regions.   2010 should finish out around 6.4 – 6.5 trillion messages, worldwide.

Here’s a new view of global SMS data.  I’ve plotted global traffic vs. Messages per Subscriber per month (relative size of the bubble) vs. Data ARPU values.

First Half 2010 - Global Messaging Stats - July 2010

Interesting that this chart shows the higher the Data ARPU percentage, the higher number of messages and messages per subscriber per month.   Both the USA/Canada and Asia-Pacific regions generated more than 1 trillion messages during the 1st half of 2010.

The USA Isn’t Behind in Everything Mobile

Recently, there has been a great deal of press and blog traffic noting how the USA falls short of leading anything when it comes to mobile. While these are certainly accurate, there are other metrics, as highlighted above, where the USA is, in fact, leading or in the top group.  For example in terms of actual numbers of SMS messages, the USA is ahead of all nations in the world, including China and continues to lead that category.  It is 2nd to China in MMS messages.   And, as shown in the chart, above, the USA leads, by a wide margin the number of SMS per subscriber, per month.   

Looking at data from ComScore data that shows the USA market is only in the mid-60 percent range for having sent an SMS message at least once per month vs. various European and Asia countries in the 70-80% range of subscriber usage of SMS, does tend to confuse things even further.  But, I will say that for ages 13-around 50, the USA holds its own against other countries’ SMS usage – but after age 50, this percentage falls considerably, compared to other countries.    The consequence of all this, is that for the subscribers who DO send SMS, they do so probably more – much more than the average 544 messages per subscriber per month indicates  – given that fewer subscribers are actually sending the messages.

Thoughts Around 1 TRILLION Messages

All of this talk about trillions got me thinking – how much is 1 trillion?   1 trillion seconds = 32,000 years.  Another way of looking at 1 trillion is that 1 trillion SMS messages is approximately 32,000 messages per second for every second of 1 year.  And the world is up to just over 3 trillion for the 1st half of 2010.  Of course, real-life message volume rates rise and fall through the day, depending on what time zone you are looking at, whether or not the traffic is in a busy hour and what country you are in.

Sybase 365 has now processed over 1 trillion inter-operator messages since we began SMS interoperability in late 2001 – most of these coming in the last 3 or so years.  We’ll cross our 2 trillion messages processed threshold in less than 2 more years, given current traffic growth and expected growth.

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One Comment

  1. Adrian says:

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