The future of mobile messaging

I often get emails from research companies or publishers trying to sell me things. Most aren’t relevant, remotely interesting or affordable. One this morning, from Portio Research, caught my eye. It’s still not affordable (at least not for us), but it did come with ten great report ‘teasers’. And all of them interesting and relevant. From the official email:

10 Facts You May Not Know About Mobile Messaging

1.     Revenues will break USD 300 billion in 2014. Annual worldwide mobile messaging revenue will reach nearly USD 210 billion by the end of 2011, and smash USD 300 billion in 2014.

2.     Messaging currently accounts for the majority of global data revenues. Messaging in 2011 will still be responsible for more than 60 percent of global data revenues; SMS and MMS alone will contribute a massive 55.7 percent to global data revenues in 2011.

3.     SMS is king. With little fanfare, SMS has long been the foundation and mainstay of non-voice service revenues. And will continue to be so for some time.

4.     SMS brings in 13 times more revenue than Apps. SMS alone generated USD 114.6 billion in 2010, and will reach USD 126.8 billion in 2011. Compare that to forecasted mobile broadband revenues (USD 58.1 billion in 2011) and mobile application revenues (USD 9.5 billion in 2011) and there is still much to get excited about in the world of mobile messaging.

5.     New European data usage trends are emerging. 2010 was something of a landmark year with significant growth seen in other mobile data services, beyond messaging. Trends seen in Japan and South Korea can never be seen as “typical” indicators of what will happen in other markets around the world, as those countries stand alone in terms of leading technology adoption. However, when mainstream markets in Western Europe witness trends that recur in more than one market, then we know a change is coming. Operations in Spain and Germany have now witnessed the changeover, where non-messaging mobile data revenues now exceed SMS revenues.

6.     MMS is a huge success. Contrary to years of popular opinion that MMS somehow failed as a service, MMS is the second highest grossing non-voice mobile service of all time, second only to SMS.

7.     MMS outperforms mobile apps and mobile music added together. In 2010, worldwide MMS traffic hit 248.7 billion MMS messages and generated massive revenues of USD 32.5 billion. To put that into perspective, MMS is bigger than mobile apps and mobile music added together, MMS is bigger than mobile gaming and mobile video added together, twice over. MMS is still a huge business, making a lot of money, and still growing in all geographic regions worldwide, and at a double-digit growth rate in most.

8.     Europe records the highest mobile e-mail revenue. In 2010, the Asia Pacific region was the largest mobile e-mail market worldwide in terms of number of mobile e-mail users, whereas Europe generated the highest mobile e-mail revenue worldwide.

9.     Latin America will see the largest mobile e-mail user base growth. As an individual country market, Japan has been the biggest market for mobile e-mail in terms of user penetration and it is expected to maintain its position in the near future. Over the coming years, the Latin America region will have the highest growth in its mobile e-mail market owing to the increasing smartphone penetration and the small current mobile e-mail user base.

10.  Over 311 million people use Mobile IM. Mobile IM is ‘the small player’ in the mobile messaging mix, generating revenues of USD 6.8 billion in full-year 2010, a substantial amount of money, but small compared to the massive USD 114.6 billion generated by SMS. Mobile IM is an extremely popular service, with more than 311 million users at end-2010.

The full report – “Mobile Messaging Futures 2011-2015″ – is available here on the Portio Research website. Have your cheque book ready.

The FrontlineSMS trump card

This time last year I was on my way back from Washington DC where I’d spent a week at the National Geographic Explorers Symposium. It was one of those am-I-really-here? events where you randomly share a lift with the likes of Bob Ballard – who discovered the wreck of the Titanic – or Spencer Wells, who’s trying to figure out where we all came from.

I couldn’t be there this year, but I did receive a nice surprise in the mail from a friend who works for National Geographic Traveler Magazine. At this year’s event they produced a deck of cards with the names of each of the Explorers and Emerging Explorers. I love what they’ve done with ours.

All that’s missing is the \o/ logo.  ;o)

That aside, hearty congratulations to everyone who made the Explorers Class of 2011!

Mobile technology and the last mile

Since our founding in 2003, kiwanja.net has been primarily focused on serving the needs of the smaller, local, grassroots NGO community. FrontlineSMS is testament to that approach – a low-tech, appropriate technology which works on locally available hardware and without the need for NGOs to employ the services of teams of technical experts. We haven’t got everything right, and FrontlineSMS remains a work in progress, but we’re excited about where we are, how we got here and where we’re headed.

We were recently approached by Philip Auerswald, Editor of “innovations“, to write an article on that journey, and our approach to mobiles-for-development. The result was a tri-authored piece by three members of the FrontlineSMS team – Sean McDonald, Flo Scialom and myself. A PDF of that article – “Mobile technology and the last mile” – is available here.

About “Innovations”:
“The journal features cases authored by exceptional innovators; commentary and research from leading academics; and essays from globally recognized executives and political leaders. The journal is jointly hosted at George Mason University’s School of Public Policy, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and MIT’s Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship”.

Many thanks to Phil and the “Innovations” team for inviting us to contribute.