While Alekstra may have bigger plans in the pipeline, they’re still providing a valuable business to corporations by optimizing their phone plans. From the data they collect, they’re seeing a sizable decline in SMS volume starting late 2011.
This data shows a similar picture to iPhone SMS usage Alekstra has collected through the Ratemizer iPhone app. We covered the app in late September, and Ratemizer has been the #1 or #2 top grossing finance app in Finland since the app launched a couple of weeks ago. “We can see some pretty interesting stuff about the current trends of behavior, and it’s pretty fascinating I have to say,” says Tero Kuittinen, VP, Sales and Marketing at Alekstra.
On Tuesday Kuittinen wrote in Forbes how text messaging volume is declining sharply in Finland among iPhone users. He writes:
From October 2011 through August 2012, the average SMS volume of 400 Finnish iPhone users randomly selected for the survey declined by 14%. From the November peak of 111 text-messages, the volume dropped to 89 text-messages in August 2012. It’s worth noting that December was not the peak month despite the Nordic tradition of sending a flood of text-messages to friends on Christmas Eve and New Year. It seems that this tradition is already fading among iPhone users who are switching to Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp.
Part of this trend might be because when the iPhone grows in popularity, iMessaging between users grows and SMS drops. Alekstra is also working on a Android app, which should give a better picture of the trends among another portion of smartphone users.
But through their corporate mobile optimization they’ve seen a similar declining trend in SMS usage, which looks at a wider cross-section of phones. Below Alekstra provided us a heat map of the monthly change in corporate SMS volume compared to the year before.
And below you can see SMS volume per month, and SMS volume per voice subscription.
Kuittinen says this is suprising because in 2011 SMS volume was still growing. Part of this downward trend could be because the iPhone (and therefore iMessages) are growing in popularity in the workplace. But much of this trend could likely be attributed to companies encouraging their employees to keep an eye on their messaging costs during the economic downturn.
“I feel that Finland may be facing a steeper SMS decline then has been projected,” says Kuittinen. “Until 2011 the SMS trends were pretty good, solid. I think some people maybe assumed in Finland that we wouldn’t face the same situation as the Netherlands where the decline has been really abrupt. But I feel like we might have hit an inflection point here.”
SMS is easy money, and if operators get desperate we may see the Finland’s stable market get shaken up. France is one example of a market that was extremely stable until Iliad offered a €20 monthly plan including a decent SMS, voice, and data, launching a price war.
“It looks like the other operators in the market were caught completely flat footed, and didn’t know how to respond to that,” says Kuittinen. “Now they have a price war there with new plans debuting every month. All it took for France’s equilibrium to be shattered was one small entrant that really got aggressive. And now big operators have to respond.”