MMS Usage Up 40% In The US

Messaging company Mobile365 says the number of mobile-originated MMS messages it processed in the US increased 40% from the first to the second quarter, a pretty significant jump. The raw numbers are higher than I’d expected as well, up to 52 million and change in the second quarter. Keep in mind this is just what Mobile365 processed, and doesn’t represent the entire US market (got a message in to the company’s PR folks for some clarification on that Update: Mobile365 processes half of the country’s inter-carrier MMS traffic — so this figure is much more representative than it is comprehensive).

It’s important to emphasize this is mobile-originated messages — ie person-to-person messages — not messages where MMS is a delivery platform for purchased mobile content. It’s hard to pin down exactly why things are growing so quickly: the company cites an increase in the number of MMS-capable handsets in circulation, but it’s not as if those numbers shot up 40% in the quarter. It would seem the only reasonable explanation is — gasp — people are actually starting to use MMS. M:Metrics’ figures from May show the percentage of American users that sent a photo message increase by 8 points from the previous month to nearly 12%, but still only represents 22.6 million users. This increase tracks pretty well with Mobile365’s average month-on-month increase in the number of messages, at 12%.

So it looks like more people are starting to use MMS, or are at least trying it. One factor that could be driving this is a change in pricing — most of the major US carriers now price all messages the same, if users buy them in bundles or buy an unlimited plan. I haven’t been able to figure out if there’s some activity creating a large mass of heavy users (like moblogging could do), and I’ve checked with my crack youth focus group to see if there’s something the kids are doing that I’m missing out on, but that’s drawn a blank as well. So what gives? Any ideas?

Update: Upon further reflection, 52 million really isn’t very much in a quarter, is it? That’s under 600,000 a day or so, which isn’t much at all. Still, something’s driving the growth, though at this point, I’m thinking it’s got more to do with people just bothering to try it out for the first time more than anything.

[tags]mobile, mms, picture messaging, cameraphones, mobile365[/tags]

—–>Follow us on Twitter too: @russellbuckley and @caaarlo