Q1 global SMS messages top 50 billion

Short messaging system messages are making big strides, with cell phone users sending upwards of 50 billion text messages in the first quarter of this year, the GSM Association said in a report released Friday.

SINGAPORE--Short messaging system messages are making big strides, with cell phone users sending upwards of 50 billion text messages in the first quarter of this year, the GSM Association said in a report released Friday.

This average of more than 16 billion messages marks a five-fold increase from a year ago. In April 1999, 1 billion messages were sent.

"The continuing growth demonstrates that the popularity of SMS is not down to a passing trend," said GSM Association CEO Rob Conway. "Texting is now achieving mass market status in many markets of the world. Today the visual message is as powerful and popular as voice."

The increased numbers can also be put down in part to the popularity of GSM, which forms nearly 70 percent of the world's digital wireless market--roughly 500 million users.

"Other key factors in SMS' success," elaborates Conway, "include inter-working between networks and roaming agreements, a host of lifestyle applications coming on stream--where it's clear that 'culture is king'--in addition to competitive pricing, with pre-pay SMS and attractive promotion strategies."

SMS is becoming so entrenched in our lives that BBC Television will broadcast a television program live, based on SMS. The Joy of Text will include a 45-minute documentary about the many ways in which text messaging touches people's lives and a live entertainment show with the audience competing in a text messaging quiz. Fitting, as British mobile users keyed in 3.5 billion text messages in the first quarter of this year.

However, the Germans are the most devoted SMS users, sending 6 billion messages in the first four months of 2001.

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