US Text Messaging Volume Declined by 5% Last Year

CTIA-US-Text-Messaging-Volume-2008-2012-May2013Texting is the most common activity on a mobile phone after talking, accounting for roughly 1 in every 7 minutes spent on a mobile phone, per data from Nielsen. Recent research from Experian Marketing Services suggests that 18-24-year-old smartphone owners send and receive an average of almost 4,000 text messages per month. But texting may be on the decline: last year, Americans texted each other 2.19 trillion times, down 4.9% from the prior year, after at least 3 consecutive years of growth, according to [pdf] survey results from CTIA-The Wireless Association..

Prior to 2012, texting had grown year-over-year by 12.3% (2011), 31.3% (2010), and 55.5% (2009). Those declining rates of growth with each passing year were finally capped off by negative growth last year.

The decline in texting volume suggests that with the steady growth in smartphone penetration, internet-based messaging applications such as WhatsApp and Apple’s Messages are having an impact. Indeed, Informa Telecoms & Media recently reported that globally, daily over-the-top (OTT) messaging traffic has already exceeded person-to-person (P2P) SMS traffic, and is expected to double SMS traffic by the end of the year.

Other Findings:

  • US wireless data traffic grew by 69% year-over-year in 2012, after a 123% increase in 2011.
  • Of the 326 million estimated wireless subscriber connections in the US last year, 22 million were wireless-enabled tablets, laptops and modems (up from 20 million in 2011) and 152 million were smartphones, up 36% from 112 million in 2011.

About the Data: For the December 31, 2012, installment of its semi-annual survey, CTIA aggregated data from companies serving 97% of all estimated wireless subscriber connections (excluding some machine-to-machine and other units not treated as “subscriber connections” for reporting purposes by some carriers).