In a finding that might benefit mobile marketing, Nielsen Mobile found that during the second quarter of this year, domestic wireless subscribers sent or received an average of 357 text messages each month, compared with an average of 204 phone calls placed or received. It was the second consecutive quarter in which mobile texting significantly eclipsed the number of phone calls.
In the hands of teens, young adults
Teens aged 13 to 17 had the highest levels of text messaging, sending and receiving an average of 1,742 text messages per month, while only logging 231 mobile phone calls in the same period. Not surprisingly, the next age group, adults 18-24, had the second-largest gap in text-to-call ratio, 790 to 265.
To come up with its tally, Nielsen tracks billing activity through an opt-in panel of more than 50,000 personally liable, postpaid U.S. mobile lines across the nation's top four carriers, AT&T, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless.
Paul Okimoto, corporate VP for Nielsen Mobile, said the trend has several roots, not the least of which is an inundation of new devices with integrated keyboards. "If you look at where mobile phones were just 10 years ago, we've come a long way," he said.
Mr. Okimoto said that, in general, texting options are usually less expensive than their voice counterparts across carriers, which might explain the surge in texting behavior. And while he said Nielsen hadn't done any conclusive research to suggest it, Mr. Okimoto didn't rule out the role a shaky economy could have in consumers' growing proclivity to let their thumbs do the talking.
75M texts sent in June
This past June alone, 75 billion text messages were sent in the U.S., compared with 7.2 billion in June 2005, according to wireless industry trade group CTIA.
At a user base of around 200 million, Mr. Okimoto said the mobile market is rife for advertisers to tap into "who we are." He cited Sen. Barack Obama's campaign, which sent out a mass text message alerting his supporters to his choice of running mate, a text that, according to Nielsen numbers, reached 2.9 million mobile subscribers.
"The whole ecosystem of mobile has reached a critical mass," Mr. Okimoto said. "It's compelling to say the least."