(updated August 2005)
21st Century mobile services in 2005/6 are set to become more multi access, multi speed, multimedia and multicolour. This will provide more investment opportunities for Businesses, Government and Consumers and the mobile industry is preparing for this. The MDA is a UK trade body that is both supporting the trend but also encouraging its growth.
The Mobile Data Association was formed just over 10 years ago to promote all forms of mobile data, even if the 95 or so members tend to have a stronger cellular mobile focus. Alongside some good mobile interoperability and marketing work, for the last 6 years the MDA has published monthly text figures (see www.text.it) charting the monthly growth from 1989 when 1 Billion text messages were sent to 26 Billion for the whole of 2004 in the UK alone. 15 Billion have already been sent in 2005. Recent estimates have suggested this is part of a global total of around 1000 Billion or 1 Trillion forecast for 2005 on GSM networks worldwide. However, it is clear from the trade partnerships in the MDA that there are much broader mobile data growth trends under way.
The 4th screen of Mobile (after Film, TV and the PC) is now much more pervasive and personal. It may not compete directly with these other screens, but now it is often coloured and with a larger viewing or display area. The MDA members can see from usage levels how customers are moving from this verbal to a visual world of mobile content. The members can then share and identify mobility needs and usage that can be met through faster access speeds, web content, Mobile Internet access and downloadable delivery to the mobile. With the 4th screen there are also “Push” and “Pull” services, Location based facilities, billing/pricing and customer care models (and revenue shares) often not available with the other screens. The MDA announced in October 04 a forecast for 2005 of 15 Billion W@P page impressions, which already looks as if it will be exceeded. GPRS capable handsets in the UK already exceed 50% of the total handsets in use, so access speed concerns have significantly reduced, but are also paving the way for customers towards a wider dual mode world of 3G or Next generation services.
The trend towards multi mode (2G/3G, 2G/WIFI, and 2G/DVB-H to name only three), higher speeds and more functionality will continue. These developments, coupled with the likely global mobile volume heading towards 2 Billion cellphones in use, and 750 Million new handsets shipped in the year by the end of 2005, will provide many new opportunities. Over 75 3G Networks globally are now open with fast growth rates already stimulating further 3G network investment, and a flourishing market for Content partnerships.
The MDA announced in February `05 that there were now “more phones than people” in the UK illustrating that the UK has already embraced mobile extensively, with “data” being a key driver of this high adoption rate. OFCOM announced in July 05 that gross mobile revenues exceed fixed revenues.
Ongoing patterns of innovation and growth in usage can also be foreseen. GPRS handset penetration should approach 75% of all handsets in use, and 3G should approach 75% of all handsets in use, and 3G should exceed 5 Million all by end of 2005. We also see that now the UK subscriptions exceed the population, the mobile trade will look at many more innovative ways to stimulate usage, rather than retaining a pure emphasis on connections alone. A lot of this usage will relate to new voice requirements but perhaps with faster growth in Data/Content including Messaging, Mobile Content, Enterprise applications.
The variety of Content on the move, or Liquid Media, will also grow and diversify in areas of
* Participation TV (from text voting, to text to screen, to text response; Mobile Messaging, mobile cameras and picture to screen taking us beyond reality TV into a new world of celebrity downloads?),
* Mobile Music and Entertainment,
* Mobile Marketing (including bar codes / interactive posters).
* Mobile Commerce and more web/Intranet activities for consumers and business. All the mobile portals should develop into a much wider shopping mall of content and services for all our pockets. Search, storage, sharing and security will all become more important.
Interest is also growing in the Enterprise world, with the significant adoption of Mobile Messaging, Mobile E-mail, Fleet Management, and Field/service/sales automation via mobility solutions. Remote access will be a vital member of any blue-collar toolbox. Regulations around the lone worker as well as efficiencies are also driving wider adoption.
Public sector interest will develop in information alerts (Education / Health), and transport management (e.g. parking, congestion and road user charging). The need to make Government investment more productive will be a theme that continues to grow and mobile communications is better placed than ever to play its part.
Although the wireless world to date has really been the Cinderella of the Broadband (wireline) world this is set to change rapidly, with new technologies and higher speeds.
Capability and choice will also continue to evolve with investment and new technologies including more 3G roll out, WiFi, RF ID, Fixed Wireless Access, High Speed downlink services, and GPRS developments during 2005/6. Digital Video Broadcast trials will also encourage early examination of this mobility alternative.
Balancing the benefits of mobile with societal / regulatory concerns will remain important. Mobile Content / Location based Codes, subscription based services must be clearly advertised, and anti-spam self-regulatory controls are all in place – I am sure they will be both tested and refined.
Mobile commerce will continue to develop, subject to (EU or national) pragmatic solutions on Premium Rate Services regulation, DRM and Emoney.
Voice is already going mobile but, with Liquid Media flowing, lifestyles are ready to go more wireless than ever before.
CHAIRMAN MOBILE DATA ASSOCIATION
A Brief History of UK Text Messaging
* The first text message was sent in December 1992
* SMS was launched commercially for the first time in 1995
* 1998 - Interconnect between UK Operators O2, Orange, Vodafone and T-Mobile
* The first recorded monthly text message total was 5.4 million, in April 1998
* The first TV programme to use text messaging in a storyline was Eastenders, in 2000
* August 2001 was the first month in which over one billion messages were sent in the UK.
* The first local and mayoral electoral vote in the UK by text message took place on 23rd May 2002.
* December 2002- 1 billion SMS per day were exchanged globally
* On New Year's Day 2003, the number of text messages sent in one day topped one hundred million for the first time.
* 78 million text messages were sent by Britons on Valentine's Day 2003, 6 times more than traditional cards and a 37% increase on text figures for 2002.
* In December 2003, 1.9 billion text messages were sent in Britain as the traditional Christmas card was dumped in favour of a seasonal text message.
* A-Level-81 million messages were sent throughout the UK on August 19th 2004, compared to67 million text messages on A-level result day, August 14th 2003.
* The total number of text messages sent in the UK during November 2004 totalled 2.27 billion, compared to1.7 billion inNovember 2003and 1.5 billion in November 2002.
* The Rt. Hon Tony Blair MP became the first UK Prime Minister to use text message technology to talk directly to the people on 25th November 2004, answering questions submitted in advance by text message from members of the public as well as in real-time in a mobile phone chat-room, transmitted live from No. 10 Downing Street.
* On New Year's Day 2004, the total number of text messages sent reached 111 million, the highest recorded daily total.
* Annual SMS totals: 1999 – 1 billion; 2000 – 6.2 billion; 2001 – 12.2 billion; 2002 – 16.8 billion; 2003 – 20.5 billion; 2004 – 25 billion
* The MDA has forecast that a total 30 billion text messages will be sent in the UK by the end of 2005 compared to the figure of25 billion for 2004
* 78% of the UK population own a mobile phone, of which over 70% send text messages
* Text messages contribute up to 16 % of operator revenues
* 95% of 16-24 year olds use text messaging regularly, each sending an average of 100 texts per month
* UK mobile phone owners now send73 million text messages on a typical day across the four UK GSM network operators
* On average, over3 million messages are sent every hour in Britain.
* The peak hours for texting are between 10.30pm and 11.00pm.
25 Nov 2005
UK Goes Even More Text Mad
Figures released today by the Mobile Data Association (MDA) show that a record 2.9 billion text messages were sent during October, at an average of 93.5 million texts per day. The cumulative total for 2005, to the end of October, stands at 29 billion texts, with the MDA forecasting a total of 32 billion for the whole year.
The rise reflects growth in both person-to-person messaging, and in commercial messages from businesses to consumers. Person-to-person texts sent across the UK GSM network operators in October were up by 25.7% over October 2004, while in the b2c arena, retailers are using SMS to drive store traffic and business in the run up to Christmas.