As texting prices climb, the number of texts sent climbs even faster

A quick followup to yesterday’s post: Text-messaging prices may be climbing, but that hasn’t slowed down consumers.

The price per text has doubled since 2005, yet the number of texts sent has increased by 160 percent in just the past year. That figure comes from the mobile industry’s trade association, which released its half-year report yesterday – a day after Sen. Herb Kohl began asking about potential anticompetitive practices among the four major carriers.

In June alone, Americans sent 75 billion SMS texts – about 2.5 billion messages a day. Divide that by the estimated 262 million wireless users and it means the average cellphone sends 286 messages a month.

Certainly, the core users are college-age and below. Their lightning thumbs make up for all those subscribers who aren’t even sure how to send a text (we have a few of those in the office). But another important bloc in this rapidly growing industry is the adults who picked up texting from their kids (we have a bunch of them in the office, as well).

As a whole, Americans are a little behind on SMS. "Short message service, or SMS, text messaging first became popular in Europe and Asia, because it was much cheaper to send these short text messages than make an actual phone call," reports CNET. "In countries such as the Philippines, the cost of sending one text is less than one penny. And in Europe, where cell phone users are still penalized with high roaming charges between countries, texting is still a more economical form of communication. But that's not the case in the U.S., which has seen the price of sending and receiving individual text messages skyrocket 100 percent over the past two years to 20 cents a pop."

The price hasn't fazed Americans yet. And the cellular companies couldn't be happier. Revenue for "data services," which means Web and photo mail, but mostly texts, rose to $14.8 billion for the second half of 2008. That's "a 40 percent increase over the first half of 2007," according to the industry report.

So, readers, if the average is 286 messages a month, how many texts do you send? I'll admit that I’m on the low end: My iPhone plan tops out at 200 a month. I rarely reach that.

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