Tuesday, September 06, 2005

$50bn by 2010 - no end in sight for SMS phenomenon

silicon.com | By Tony Hallett | Published: Tuesday 6 September 2005

"The cheapest, easiest form of peer-to-peer mobile communication ever known"

SMS - text messaging over mobile phones - will grow in popularity so that the market is worth $50bn globally by 2010, according to new research.

A report by Portio Research claims: "No other non-verbal form of communication in the world is used by so many individuals and is experiencing such a rapid expansion of its user base."

However, the report's authors see growth in the mobile messaging market more broadly - they forecast rosy futures on the move for email, instant messaging (especially in the US), push-to-talk and even MMS, SMS' more feature-rich big brother, which should see similar revenues "by 2010 from considerably less traffic".

The year 2010 will see some 2.38 trillion text messages sent, leading Portio to dub the medium "the cheapest, easiest form of peer-to-peer mobile communication ever known".

In separate news, Vodafone has announced large text, video messaging and data bundles aimed at business customers.

The mobile networks giant said its own research shows a 30 per cent uptick in the use of text messaging by business customers over the past 12 months.

The new bundles will be available across shared accounts within Vodafone Perfect Fit for Business tariffs.

Source here

++ Related

Council tenants text for better homes
Case study: Ashford saves by automating letting requests
silicon.com | By Dan Ilett | Published: Wednesday 6 July 2005

Council house tenants are sending text messages to their local authority to request better housing.

But this is not in protest - Ashford Borough Council has especially built a system to receive SMS messages when residents wish to move house.

The council's housing services department has had a choice-based letting (CBL) scheme for years. Once a month, the service enables people to see which properties have become available and contact the council to say they would like to live there.

Managers said before the council introduced the text service, two employees in the housing agency were bogged down with phone messages, which took three days to transcribe onto computer. Although the answer phone service still exists, the council says the SMS service has reduced the workload.

Rob Neil, head of ICT at Ashford, said: "[CBL] is normally a very popular service - we get 80 to 90 people a week. There's a big push for councils to offer CBL. It's made us streamline the process. The number of people registering for the service has gone up."

The text messages are converted to email and answered by a call centre agent. The agent then sends back an email, which is again converted into a text and sent to the customer's mobile phone.

The council paid around £1,000 for an SMS gateway from Mitel. This enables the texts to be routed directly to contact centre agents, or into a database if they contain a specified code word.

"We want to automate as many processes as possible so people can do things a little more interesting and important. With this we free up two days a week. That's an equivalent of £8,000 or £9,000 a year," Neil said.

The council also paid £4,000 for the Mitel Multimedia Contact Centre. Neil said using this, people will soon be able use text messages for other services, such as reporting abandoned vehicles, broken streetlights, or request details of council services.

"I think that the housing implementation has attracted a fair bit of attention. Housing is just one application - we've got 150 applications and we're starting to roll out text messaging to those services. People can check council tax balance, or authorise credit card payments. It's really a key to reach people who are hard to communicate with."

The texts cost four pence each, which Neil said seemed cheap: "It's very cost effective when you consider the cost of putting an agent in a call centre."

Source here

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