VeriSign: 200 Billion Mobile Messages In 2008

It's an obvious statement that mobile messaging is growing, but some recently released numbers from VeriSign indicate just how fast mobile messaging is growing and how it is generating staggering revenue for mobile service providers.

You might be familiar with VeriSign as the company behind secure networking solutions for SSL, identity authentication, and domain name services. Perhaps less known is that VeriSign also manages mobile messaging networks that serve "more than 600 carriers and reach over 2.4 billion wireless subscribers... It powers inter-carrier mobile messaging for seven of the top ten wireless carriers in North America and other major operators throughout the world."

 Credit: VeriSign

With such a wide swath of the mobile messaging market, VeriSign claims that over 52 billion messages were sent across its networks just in the second quarter of 2008--resulting in over $1.9 billion in revenue for mobile service providers. The number of Q2 messages marks a 20 percent increase over the 43.3 billion messages sent in Q1 of 2008. The combined revenue from mobile messaging for service provides for the first half of 2008 is $3.5 billion. VeriSign projects that by the end of this year, about 200 billion messages will be sent though its networks, generating over $7 billion for its customers. (VeriSign claims that 96 billion messages were sent through its networks in 2007.)

"VeriSign facilitated an average of approximately 572 million messages per day in Q2 2008, compared to approximately 476 million messages per day in Q1 2008 and approximately 230 million messages per day in Q2 2007... VeriSign's network also set a single-day record by enabling 648 million texts over a 24-hour period and a one-hour record of 42 million messages."

 Credit: VeriSign

The huge growth in mobile messaging is not just a function of the growing number of mobile devices out there, but also from the increased functionality of today's mobile devices. A combined CTIA and Neilson Mobile survey predicts that mobile instant messaging (IM) will see a 168 percent increase from 20087 to 2008, and mobile e-mail usage will jump 160 percent. VeriSign reports that three times as many MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) messages were sent in Q1 2007 as were sent in Q1 2007. VeriSign also saw about a 33 percent jump in A2P (Application to Person) messages just from Q1 2008 to Q2 2008 (Q1 saw 186 million A2P messages; Q2 saw 249 A2P messages).

"Contributing to this growth were increases in the steady adoption of mobile banking services by VeriSign's customers, including 7 of the top 10 banks in the United States and a 30 percent increase in traffic volumes for standard and premium A2P traffic messages carried in Europe."

The CTIA/Neilson Mobile survey shows MMS, mobile IM, mobile e-mail, and video as the largest growing revenue generators for mobile messaging over the next five years.

We decided to do some very fuzzy math to put some of these seemingly astronomical numbers in perspective. Based on a current estimated world population of about 6.6 billion people and a total of about 286 billion mobile messages sent worldwide in 2008 (based on incomplete data and perhaps faulty math--the actual number is probably much higher):

  • If every person on earth had a mobile device and used it to send and receive mobile messages, the average person will send/receive about 43 messages per year
  • With estimates that by the end of 2008 there will be one billion worldwide mobile phone users, an average user will send/receive about 286 messages per year.

Perhaps it is time to upgrade to that unlimited messaging plan?