More than 7 trillion SMS messages will be sent in 2011: ABI Research

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A study by ABI Research finds that consumers worldwide will send more than 7 trillion SMS messages in 2011, indicating a huge opportunity for marketers.

The study found that messaging is more prevalent among younger subscribers, and as they replace older subscribers, messaging will get a further boost. According to ABI, messaging includes four types of communication: SMS, MMS, mobile email and instant messaging.

“The key finding is the astounding number of SMS that gets sent annually,” said Neil Strother, practice director at ABI Research, Oyster Bay, NY. “Trillions of messages are sent across billions of mobile phones.

“It is the key communication tool of the modern era,” he said. “It is a great place for marketers to communicate with consumers. 

“Marketers get consumers to spark the conversation via messages based on a trigger or keyword. With SMS, you can connect the consumer to other media such as a video.”

ABI Research provides in-depth analysis and quantitative forecasting of trends in global connectivity and other emerging technologies.

SMS growth
SMS is increasingly regarded as something of a commodity by users due to falling delivery costs and high competition.

When these trends towards commoditization are combined with the wider adoption of mobile email and IM services, the revenue proportion of SMS and MMS against the market total is expected to decline, per ABI.

Due to low PC penetration in emerging regions, for many consumers across Latin America, Africa and south Asia mobile devices will be the primary access point for email.

ABI found that the rate of mobile phone adoption will gradually decline over the next five years, and growth in number of new customers starting to use messaging will likewise slow gradually.

The future of mobile messaging will increasingly be in unified toolkits that mash up and converge text and multimedia messages, IM chats, emails and voicemails.

The fact that consumers are increasingly comfortable communicating via SMS means that brands could potentially use the channel to speak with them.

Already brands are building databases of mobile users and sending them news and information updates, as well as coupons.

With the expected growth in SMS for 2011, more brands will likely jump on the SMS marketing bandwagon.

"In 2011, marketers will continue to use SMS along with other mobile channels,” Mr. Strother said. “Not everyone has a smartphone, and communicating with those that do not via SMS is the best way to reach a wide audience.”

Giselle Tsirulnik is deputy managing editor on Mobile Marketer and Mobile Commerce Daily. Reach her at giselle@mobilemarketer.com.