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Monday, November 26, 2012

Study Finds Rise in Cellphone Texting Even as Revenue Drops

A new report finds that certain activities that people do on a cellphone, like taking a picture and shooting video, have increased significantly in the last few years. Texting, in particular, has grown considerably - but not texting in the traditional sense.

The Pew Research Center published a study over the weekend that showed that the number of cellphone owners who text on their phones has grown to 80 percent from 58 percent in 2007.

As I reported this month, traditional text messaging - the kind where you pay to send messages over the phone network - recently declined for the first time in the United States, following a trend in countries around the world, like the Philippines and Finland, according to Chetan Sharma, an independent mobile analyst. As a result, the money that carriers earn from text messaging has been dropping, too.

So how could texting be on the rise? Instead of sending traditional text messages, cellphone owners are shifting toward Internet-based messaging services, like Apple's iMessage, Facebook messaging and WhatsApp, Mr. Sharma says. These services are popular because they don't charge per text; they are gradually redefining what we think of as text messaging.

The Pew study also found that the number of cellphone owners who use phones to send e-mail has jumped to 50 percent from 19 percent in 2007, and the number of cellphone owners using phones to shoot video has risen to 44 percent from 18 percent five years ago. The number of cellphone owners who use their phones to download apps is 43 percent, up from 22 percent in 2009. All these factors are directly correlated with the rise of the smartphone - more than 50 percent of American cellphone owners own one, according to Nielsen.

“Cell users now treat their gadget as a body appendage,” said Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Research Center, in a statement. “There is striking growth in the number of people who are taking advantage of the growing number of functions that these phones can perform, and there isn't much evidence yet that the pace of change is slowing down.”