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What France and the US have in common

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Recent research from both sides of the Atlantic might explain much about national traits, and give some idea why SMS revenues continue to climb, and an insight into what the future may hold for 3G.

World-wide more than a billion messages per day text from one mobile to another. On average that's one message per day for each subscriber. Averages don't tell the full story, though. What's interesting is the variation in different countries and age groups, and what lies behind those variations.

While 30 messages per month may be the world-wide average, the range is from around 200 per month per subscriber in Singapore and the Philippines, down as low as seven in the US.

There are differing standards and some technical limitations in the US. For example the older handsets don't support two-way texting, and if you're sending from one operator to another there's still a chance that your text won't make it through. However the biggest brake on usage is cost. Around the world the average is about the same as the UK 10p, or $0.10 based on the usual high tech conversion rate.

But in the US, fixed line calls are still very cheap, and local calls are typically still free. Wireless operators have to provide packages with thousands of minutes per month just to win customers over to using their mobiles. In the early days of mobiles in the US, you even had to pay for the wireless part incoming calls. When the local lines are used for free Internet connection, Instant Messaging (IM) becomes very compelling for keeping in touch with a wide number of contacts, so it's no wonder that IM is the preferred mode of electronic chat for US teenagers.

So why pay to send a text message?

Well, as European operators have found, there's money to be made with SMS. Margins are higher than on voice calls, and some operators gain up to 20% of their revenues from text. US operators are now looking for populist ways to grow the volume of messages through links with TV game shows, sports and voting in 'reality TV' shows.

In the UK nine out of ten children own a mobile phone, and spend £100,000 a day solely on text messaging. Some research suggests that for teenagers, receiving messages boosts their confidence, as they use the number of messages they receive as a measure of their popularity. This could be worrying if kids start to feel particularly bad when they find they don't receive as many as their friends.

Oddly enough, there is one European country that matches the US as a low text-receiving nation - France. © IT-Analysis.com

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