The seemingly-unstoppable rise in text messaging has finally ended, with the US showing a decline for the first time ever.
According to a research report from Chetan Sharma Consulting, the average phone user is now sending 678 texts per month, compared with 696 this time last year.
“In Q3 2012, for the first time, there was a decline in both the total number of messages as well as the total messaging revenue in the market,” says the company. “It might be early to say if the decline has begun or the market segment will sputter along before the decline takes place.”
But the reason doesn’t seem to be that people are typing less. The company says it’s simply that other types of messaging are taking over. Services such as Skype or Apple’s iMessage, along with social networks like Twitter and Facebook, seem to be taking up the slack.
It’s a similar pattern to that of the rest of the world. Most countries were quicker to embrace SMS than the US, and have been showing a fall for some time.
Overall, the report predicts a slowing in the growth of mobile data, after several years in which it’s doubled every year. It now accounts for nearly 43 percent of mobile industry service revenues in the US, and this proportion is likely to rise. Smartphone users are now averaging 900MB per month; and as this figure increases, we’re likely to see bigger data plans on the market – at higher prices.
Meanwhile, voice traffic is still the poor relation, and is predicted to dip below ten percent of overall traffic this year.