Yuletide texting in 2013 fell from the levels seen in 2012 by Telia Denmark and several Belgian MNOs. The Danish operator reported that its customers sent 5.8 million SMS messages on 24 December, down from 7 million on the same date in 2012, a 17 percent decrease. In Belgium, Mobistar said its customers sent 13.4 million SMS, 6 percent lower than the previous year’s total. Belgacom’s subsidiary Proximus reported 12.8 million SMS, down 11 percent. Meanwhile, in the Czech Republic, Christmas SMS were up, with customers throughout the country sending a total of 75.2 million texts, a 9 percent increase over last year. Telefonica reported a 9.6 percent increase with a record 27.9 million SMS, T-Mobile an 11 percent increase with 29 million SMS, and Vodafone a 6 percent increase with 18.3 million SMS.
In Europe, Christmas Eve is traditionally the busiest time on the calendar for sending text messages, and this year was no exception. However, the substantial decreases in SMS in Denmark and Belgium are noteworthy and point to a trend in consumer handset usage. Telia officials ascribed the decline to the fact that their customers were relying more on social-media networks to send Christmas greetings to friends and family. Likewise, in Belgium, Mobistar ascribed its lower SMS figure to increased mobile data traffic, which was up 19.4 percent from 2012. In these sophisticated markets, where smartphones are plentiful, the internet (in particular as a conduit for social media) appears to be displacing the text message as a preferred medium of rapid communication, with data taking revenue share away from telephony.
On the other hand, holiday SMS use in the Czech Republic gained over last year, a likely indicator that texting is holding its own there and that the country’s users lag somewhat behind those in northern Europe in terms of data use and smartphone adoption—or at least that their communication habits have not yet caught up with data plans and device penetration. Whatever the case may be, it is clear that the growth of mobile internet traffic will be a major trend worldwide in 2014. According to a recent report, in the United States traffic nearly doubled in 2013 to 1.2 GB per month per user over cellular networks from 690 MB per month in 2012.