There was less text messaging this Holiday Season, but not everywhere

Earlier this year we noted that over 6 trillion text messages were sent in 2010, a rise of 41% compared to the year before. The growth may have been declining – SMS saw a 53% increase from 2008 to 2009 – but SMS and MMS are still going strong. This is in spite of social media like Twitter and Facebook having grabbed many of the headlines.

But what did it look like for the Christmas and New Year we’ve just been through?

Looking at multiple countries and carriers

Tero Kuittinen, writing for Forbes, noted a decline in the number of text messages sent this holiday season in a number of countries. Several other sites picked up the same topic, and one site even claimed that this was “a danger sign for carriers.”

Curious as we are we wanted to try to figure out what the situation was like around the world and after some time with our noses in search engines, here’s what we found (The source for each line is linked to in the first column. In the 2011 column, green indicates an increase from 2010, red indicates a decrease):

SMS and MMS sent Christmas and New Year 2010 and 2011
Operator and Country Christmas / New Year 2010 2011
Telenor, Sweden (MMS) Christmas 425,000 475,000
Telenor, Sweden (SMS) Christmas 10.1 million 9.5 million
Telia, Sweden (SMS and MMS) Christmas 24.2 million 24 million
Telia, Sweden (SMS) New Year 29.6 million 28.4 million
Tele2, Sweden (SMS) New Year 34.7 million 30.7 million
Sonera, Finland (SMS) Christmas 10.9 million 8.5 million
DNA, Finland (SMS) Christmas 5.9 million 5.6 million
Hong Kong (SMS) Christmas 25.1 million 21.62 million
T-Mobile, Czech Republic (SMS) Christmas 29.6 million 27.3 million
T-Mobile, Czech Republic (MMS) Christmas 235,110 277,430
Cytamobile-Vodafone, Cyprus (SMS) Christmas N/A 7 million
Mobistar, Belgium (SMS) Christmas 7.45 million 9.6 million
Proximus, Belgium (SMS) Christmas 14.5 million 14.5 million
Base, Belgium (SMS) Christmas N/A 6.9 million
Vodafone, Hungary (MMS and SMS) Christmas (3 days) 10 million 9 million
Telenor, Serbia (SMS) New Year 32.7 million 37 million
Bouygues Telecom, France (SMS) New Year 154 million 200 million
SFR, France (SMS) New Year 125 – 146 million 183 million

Mixed picture

Looking at these numbers, it seems like those who have already declared the death of SMS have done so prematurely.

There’s no denying that for most operators and countries, the volume of text messaging is declining when comparing the holidays seasons in 2010 and 2011. But it’s also true that in some cases the volume has increased, even quite substantially.

This is of course just a comparison of a few days in two consecutive years so it’s not anything statistically significant.

Perhaps when we add the numbers for this year’s holiday season we can start talking about some definite trends.

Photo by FaceMePLS.


  1. It would be very interesting to see figures across more EU countries like the UK, Germany, Netherlands etc to see if there’s a definite trend. Would also be interesting to see whether social networks have resulted in a larger proportion of the international communications going via those mediums because of the cost element of SMS and international fees. I guess the issue with both of these is where to get the data.

  2. For sure, Charlie, it would be interesting to see data from more places. Perhaps over the coming months we can collect more data and put something together.

  3. The French stats are interesting – they always like to be different than everyone else. My guess is the UK trend would have dropped from last year with social networks being utilised more.

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