US Text Messaging Explosion

At the CTIA conference last week, the organization announced mind boggling numbers for US text messaging usage. According to the organization's semi-annual survey:

[T]ext messaging again set new records, with 75 billion messages reported in the month of June 2008 alone – about 2.5 billion messages a day. This represents an increase of 160% over the 28.8 billion messages reported in June 2007. Additionally, wireless subscribers continue to capture and send more pictures and other multi-media messages, more than 5.6 billion MMS messages in the first half of 2008 – almost as many as were sent in all of 2007.

As CNET reports (citing Nielsen Mobile data), Americans now send text messages more often than they make voice calls:

For the second quarter of 2008, U.S. mobile subscribers sent and received on average 357 text messages per month, compared with making and receiving 204 phone calls a month, according to Nielsen

This isn't going to be true for every demographic segment and texting still skews younger. Along those lines, however, here's an astounding datapoint:

Americans 13 to 17 years of age sent or received an average of 1,742 text messages a month in Q2 per Nielsen. SMS penetration is 53 percent, or 137.8 million mobile subscribers in the US.

Data revenues now represent 20% of US carrier revenues and given these numbers it's easy to see why. Yet text messaging is a relatively neglected segment of mobile marketing -- at least in terms of planning and projections. But it's a segment that is growing and almost as big as voice in terms of users. It's clearly bigger in terms of frequency. 

SMS is also interesting because it ties in with traditional media more readily than other forms of mobile advertising and can be used to measure response accordingly.