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Consumers to use SMS to communicate this Valentine's Day: Study

Texting will complement the displays of thoughtfulness typically associated with Valentine's Day, according to a study conducted by AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets.

The study was an in-depth look at the role that text and picture messaging will play in Valentine's Day celebrations. Of the 36 percent of texters who intend to send picture or text messages to celebrate the holiday, 67 percent also plan to send a traditionally card.

"The key finding of the survey is that texting complements traditional forms of communication to express affection on Valentine's Day, not replaces it," said Heather Buffington, spokeswoman for AT&T, Atlanta. "In this instance, sending a text message or picture message, in addition to a card, represents another dose of love that texters can dish out to that special someone."

The AT&T survey found that 61 percent of consumers plan to send a text message to someone with whom they're currently in a relationship, while another 35 percent plan to send a text message to a friend of family member.

Forty percent plan to send five or more Valentine's Day text messages.

Further, about half of texters surveyed (48 percent) felt that receiving a Valentine's Day text message would mean the same or more than getting a card.

More than two-thirds of texters surveyed (68 percent) felt that receiving a Valentine's Day picture message would mean the same or more than getting a card.

The survey findings underscore the growing popularity of text messaging.

AT&T Mobility customers sent nearly 243 billion text messages in 2008, including nearly 80 billion text messages in the fourth quarter alone.

That's up 176 percent from 2007, when the company reported nearly 88 billion text messages for the year.

"There's no doubt there will be a lot of loving and flirtatious banter happening this holiday," Ms. Buffington said.

A Nielsen study released in September 2008 suggested that some consumers are now using their wireless phones more for texting than talking.

Previous poll data released by the company in the fall of 2008 identified some interesting patterns in how couples are using texting in relationships.

"In a nutshell, consumers are texters," Ms. Buffington said. "Text messaging is an acceptable form of communication for everyday conversations as well as on special occasions. In fact, there are many consumers that use their cell phones for texting than for voice calls.

"Consumers like texting for a variety of reasons -- ease of use, discrete nature, speed," she said. "In fact, more and more consumers are purchasing cell phones with full keyboards so they can fire off their text messages even faster.

"Clearly, texting's popularity is on the rise."