Survey: Text-messaging increasingly popular

Written by Adrian Holovaty on June 15, 2003

BBC News: Young 'prefer texting to calls'.

Text messages have superseded phone calls as the most common use for a mobile phone among young people, a new survey reveals.

It's not clear whether this survey's focus was Britain or the world, but either way this struck me as news that online information providers should be acting on.

At work, our events calendar includes a "remind me of this event on my cell phone" component, which sends you a text-message reminder at a time of your choosing. Is anybody else doing anything cool with text-messaging? I'm familiar with Major League Baseball's text-messaging service at, but otherwise it seems to me that, in the U.S. at least, information providers aren't doing much -- or maybe they just aren't publicizing it.


Posted by Sencer on June 15, 2003, at 9:37 p.m.:

Well in Germany text messaging (or sms as they call it here) is also really huge, and has been for quite a while. For about a year there is something called Premium SMS where you pay more (between 19 cent and 2,99€) for one SMS. This service is available to anyone and can be used to generate income.

Biggest current example is a 'game' at one of the bigger television stations, where they show special keywords during their shows and you can send a text message with that keyword to a certain number to take part in a lottery, where you win phones, some money, voyages etc. And from what I heard they are doing great.

Now, if I only had my own television station... *grin*

Posted by Ben Meadowcroft on June 15, 2003, at 9:45 p.m.:

Test messaging is big in the UK at the moment, the big commercial push is with sports and entertainment information, for example who got evicted from the big brother household. Video messages to mobiles showing the latest goals in a football match, soccer for the americans, are also beginnning to gain popularity now the new generation of mobiles are commercially available.

Posted by Lars Holst on June 16, 2003, at 3:51 p.m.:

Same thing in Sweden, where it's also known as SMS. It's great when you commute because it keeps the otherwise noisy youngsters silent as they concentrate on typing.

I think a message is around $0.20 or about SEK1.50. Looking at the frequency with which these (mostly) young people send and receive messages, you can understand it's big business.

Expect MMS (and camera equipped handsets) to pick up in the same fashion.

Looking at services, Europe is lightyears behind Japan and Korea. Good business opportunities, but everyone seems to be waiting for everyone else.

Posted by Lars Holst on June 16, 2003, at 3:57 p.m.:

Just to clarify: there ARE loads of services available in Sweden too, and they probably generate a lot of cash. However, most of these are similar to what Sencer described, meaning they mostly appeal to people under 20. So far I have only seen fit for myself to use the flight information service from SAS, which works great and is free of charge (except for the cost of the SMS itself).

Posted by Steve Yelvington on June 16, 2003, at 8:01 p.m.:

SMS text messaging is primarily a European phenomenon. Japan has a different standard, and in the USA, AOL Instant Messenger reigns supreme.

T-Mobile is marketing the Danger Hiptop in the United States as the "Sidekick," and is selling it right now for zero dollars with signup, after rebates. It has a built-in AIM client and a decent Web browser, and I think it represents the direction the U.S. market is likely to take. The T-Mobile plan is for unlimited usage of AIM and the Web, which fits the American preference for flat-rate plans.

Posted by Vin Crosbie on June 17, 2003, at 9:26 p.m.:

SMS is a phenemonon in Europe, but not a genetically European phenomenon. The main reason SMS has not been the same phenomenon here in the U.S. was because until recently the handsets sold by the five U.S. wireless companies' didn't allow origination of text messages (kind of a requirement for text messaging!) and those companies messaging systems were incompatible with each other and with GSM. However, all that is changing, and with predictable results: Last December, Telephia and Harris reported that 35% of U.S. mobile phone owners aged 18 to 24 are now SMS users. More than one in four (28%) are frequent users (send/receive at least one message daily). I believes that SMS (and MMS) will overtake AIM as the IM application (including desktop) among American youth, primarily because of its portability and because it provides IM beyond just AOL's IM system.

Posted by Norman Prather on August 8, 2006, at 1:57 a.m.:

I'll admit, I don't get it. Text messaging is too much hassle for too little value. (And the first company to send me a text message ad will NEVER get my business!)

Comments have been turned off for this page.