When a masked student walked across the campus of St. John's University in New York this week carrying an ill-concealed rifle, the campus was quickly and efficiently locked down. Cell phones bearing text messages spread the word, as officials used a system put in place after the shooting tragedy at Virginia Tech last April.
The following day, Verizon Wireless drew swift, sharp criticism for refusing a request from an abortion rights advocacy group to set up a text message alert system with subscribers. Within hours, the company reversed its position.
Two major news stories highlighting the growing uses and popularity of cell-phone texting. While texting is used significantly more in Europe and Asia, it is quickly becoming entrenched in the United States, particularly among the youngest of cell phone users. It's a trend that leads some to think there's money to be made -- both in practical and entertaining uses.
It is estimated that 35% of all wireless customers now communicate with text as well as voice. Verizon reported it's number of text messages in the United States more than doubled between the second quarter of 2006 and the second quarter of 2007, and increased more than tenfold from the second quarter of 2004.
Revenues also have increased, but not as dramatically, largely because wireless providers are expanding their flat-rate unlimited texting plans, and a lot of the 28 billion text messages sent in the second quarter of this year fell under those plans.
The Yankee Group research firm projects that U.S. wireless carriers generated roughly $3 billion of their overall $140 billion in service fees from text messaging in 2006. The firm also predicts that text messaging revenue will stay flat over the next few years. Meanwhile, text spamming is on the rise, which could crimp legitimate advertising efforts.
Telecommunications and media research group Informa projects marketers will spend more than $11 billion on mobile advertising by 2011. But that estimate is predicated on customers who trust they are receiving only messages they want to see.