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.

FrontlineSMS goes MMS!

It’s been three long years since the idea of supporting multimedia messaging (MMS) within FrontlineSMS was first raised by a handful of users. About a year later, the Hewlett Foundation stepped in and funded its development, excited by its potential in health, agriculture and governance, among others. Today, we’re excited to finally announce MMS support in FrontlineSMS. And it’s something of a game-changer for us and our users.

To quote from today’s Press Release:

The open-source SMS communications platform FrontlineSMS has delivered major new features as part of a new software release today. With this upgrade, FrontlineSMS allows organisations to receive multimedia messages via a standard email account. More complex than SMS messages, MMS can include text, images, video and audio. This is a huge step forward for FrontlineSMS: it opens the door for social and environmental organisations to incorporate photo, audio and video documentation in their work, and it paves the way for innovations like the FrontlineSMS:Medic partnership with Cellophone that will provide medical diagnostics via MMS. With MMS, FrontlineSMS extends its efforts to empower large groups of people to gather and share information of any kind, anywhere there is a mobile signal

For further details, or for tweets, re-tweets and comments on this story, check out the FrontlineSMS Blog.

Please note: From today onwards, all official FrontlineSMS posts and Guest Posts will be posted on the official FrontlineSMS website. Older entries are still available here by clicking on the relevant category to the right.

The value of content in a content-driven world

Text messaging was, and remains, the surprise package for the mobile industry. Now a major income generator, SMS was never intended for mass public consumption – the channel was used mostly by engineers to test connectivity or to report the arrival of voicemail messages to users. Ironically, multimedia messaging – MMS – was planned and was supposed to signal the beginning of the end for SMS. But despite the massive effort – and marketing bucks – put in by the mobile operators, uptake was slow and remains slow to this day. People rarely want to send photos or short video to each other, and people certainly don’t want to play around with their MMS compiler to put a simple message together. Why bother with all that when SMS is much cheaper, is usually enough for the job, and much easier to work?

Multimedia messaging was a classic case of a technology looking for a market. Maybe we’re seeing it all over again with mobile TV.

A recent report in TechnologyGuardian reveals that only 0.7% of the UK’s 45 million mobile phone users watch mobile TV on their phones. Indeed. Why pay to watch content on your phone which you can already get at home on your TV? And why spend that extra money when the user experience often leaves a lot to be desired? I, for one, don’t know a single person who watches television on their mobile, either in the US, Europe or the UK.

What mobile TV is lacking is killer content. Mobile operators – as they did with 3G (another relative failure) – were convinced that people would jump at the chance to watch TV on-the-go and didn’t seem to spend too much time working out why they would want to do it and what exactly it was that they would want to watch. What they didn’t seem to figure out was that it is killer content that drives mobile data usage – the websites, services, blogs, social networks, whatever – not the technology which allows it to happen. And to prove the point, T-Mobile recently announced that sites like Bebo, MySpace and Facebook were driving mobile media usage in the UK. If the content or service is there, then people will happily use the technology at their disposal to access it.

As if things weren’t bad enough, another survey taken last month concluded that, despite the continuing emergence of new mobile applications, the address book remains the primary killer app on a mobile phone. Who would have believed it?