All three measured metrics continue to grow; SMS has again surpassed expectations with 1.4 billion text messages being sent in the UK every week. SMS has established itself as a true social connecting tool and continues to have mass consumer appeal, at the same time there are signs of SMS being applied in commercial applications which will see the volume continue to rise.
Mobile Internet has seen steady growth in the UK; 16.5 million people accessed the mobile internet in May 2008. This represents a 25 per cent growth since May 2006, indicating an average 4,500 new users every day.
Picture and video messaging (MMS) is showing excellent and sustained growth, with volumes rising steadily supported by some interesting seasonal peaks. 10 million picture messages are sent every week in the UK and year-on-year growth is at 30 per cent.
The growth can be attributed to a number of factors such as; the increased number of mobile devices with picture and video messaging capabilities and the emphasis placed on ease of sharing images via the mobile networks.
Seasonal highs include December when new devices are purchased; this resulted in a massive 52 per cent increase or an extra 19 million messages in December 2007 alone. Other seasonal trends which will be monitored this year, following spikes last year, is the use of picture and video messages sent while on holiday, the ‘Wish you were here’ effect. Will this spark the end of the traditional postcard? The MDA will be assessing the figures during July and August this year and will report on them later in the year. (October 2008)
What does the future look like?
The outlook for mobile data usage remains very positive. The moves by mobile operators to offer all inclusive tariffs will stimulate further growth and with predicted lower roaming charges, this will also drive usage. The MDA expects to see SMS growth of around 30% in 2008.
New operator pricing combined with new function-rich, internet enabled devices such as the iPhone and Nokia N95, are key to driving adoption of mobile internet access. There are powerful signs all around that mobile internet access will supersede traditional PC access; a recent US study indicated that iPhone owners were responsible for 1 in 1,000 web page views last month. The MDA predicts that mobile internet will become a true rival for traditional desktop internet access, with growth of around 20% being seen in 2009.
In our next report in October 2008, the MDA will report on the rapid growth of mobile data usage driven by ‘dongles’, the 3G GPRS devices used to connect laptops to the internet via the mobile networks.
Assessing the findings of the MDA’s Q2 report, Rob Bamforth, Principal Analyst at Quocirca, said: “It is well understood and been demonstrated in recent years that the mobile phone has become one of the three most important items people carry – along with keys and a wallet or purse – when heading outside. For business or personal use, it is no longer simply a mobile equivalent of the fixed phone, but a pocketable tool for remote control and connection across several modes of communication.
The access and sharing of snippets of information while on the move has become part of working and personal lives. It started with voice, then expanded to text – which as MDA figures have consistently demonstrated has grown astronomically over time – and now most recently has grown into richer messaging media and mobile access to the internet. While these are still in their early stages, with some aspects of the technology still evolving, adoption looks set to follow similar paths to other communication and media formats.”
Q2 2008 Statistical findings
The MDA reports are unique as they report historical user data, not estimates or predictions, the figures are aggregated from all UK mobile operators.
The report highlights three key areas of mobile data usage:
1. Text messaging (SMS)
2. Picture and Video messaging (MMS)
3. Mobile Internet (MI)
Text Messaging (SMS)
Headline: The British love affair with texting continues
Number of person to person text messages sent in the UK:
Per month 6,467,070,000
Per week 1,492,400,769
Per day 212,616,000
25% Growth Quarter on Quarter (Q4 2007-Q2 2008)
30% Growth Year on Year (May 2007 to May 2008)
The growth of text messaging continues to defy expectation. The growth curve is set to continue as new devices promote messaging applications at the centre of their functionality. 1.4 billion text messages are now sent every week in the UK alone.
Steve Reynolds, Chairman of the Mobile Data Association comments: “Text messaging has been without question one of the great success stories of the mobile age both for the industry and consumer. With announcements this month around reduced cost of sending and receiving text messages abroad, this type of mobile operator action will only act to stimulate further growth. In 2008 we are increasingly seeing other applications come into focus for business and consumer use. Mobile e-mail and instant messaging represent new communication mediums but mobile operators need to simplify set-up and access to encourage adoption.”
Picture and Video messaging (MMS)
Headline: Wish you were here, say it with your mobile this summer
Number of person to person MMS messages sent in the UK:
Per month – 46,516,405 (During May 2008)
Per week – 10,734,555
Per day – 1,529,306
MMS has seen a 30% year on year growth
10 million picture messages sent every week in the UK
Steve Reynolds, Chairman of the Mobile Data Association comments:
“Picture and video messaging volumes are gathering real pace. The proliferation of camera enabled devices has been key, but improved and automated settings around MMS set up have made the process simpler for the end user. The mobile phone now goes with us all everywhere; the seasonal trend of sending holiday messages is testament to that.”
Mobile Internet (MI)
Figures relate to number of unique visitors accessing the Internet from their mobile phone during the stated period:
Number of Mobile Internet users
May 2006 – 13,140,000.00
May 2008 – 16,425,000.00
Average number of new users per month 136,875 (between May 06 and May 08)
Per week – 31,587
Per day – 4,500
Mobile Internet usage has grown 25% in the past two years.
Steve Reynolds, Chairman of the Mobile Data Association comments: “There remain a number of challenges that mobile operators need to address to accelerate the growth of Mobile Internet. The MDA is calling for greater price transparency on the costs associated with using the Mobile Internet. The findings of this report suggest a real consumer appetite, but confusion and fear over costs may be holding back growth.