National Survey Finds Americans Ready To Embrace Wireless Text Messaging

BEDMINSTER, NJ — In a recent national survey of tech-savvy consumers, women emerged as a driving force behind the growing popularity of two-way wireless short text messaging service. Eighty-seven percent of 30-40 year-old women surveyed in the study, commissioned by Verizon Wireless, said that text messaging would help them improve their personal and business communications.

Short messaging service, or SMS, allows customers to send messages of up to 160 characters from one two-way messaging capable wireless phone to another, or to any Internet e-mail address. It's a super-fast, discreet way to communicate that has had extraordinary success in Europe and Asia. The service is just beginning to catch on in the United States, where industry analysts estimate wireless messaging users will grow from 1.4 million last year to 15 million by 2004.

Mobile communications already have changed the way Americans communicate. Over 92 percent of respondents said cell phones have significantly changed the way they do business and communicate with friends. Eighty nine percent of respondents believe wireless phones would be even more useful if they could easily and quietly send short messages.

The women in the survey seemed most intent on multitasking -- 80 percent of those surveyed said they would find their phones more useful if they could send a text message while also talking to someone on the same phone. While women believe short messaging service will help them balance their work, family and social obligations, some communications biases never change. Eighty three percent of women over 30 said they would use the technology to keep in touch with their own family, but only 53 percent would use text messaging to communicate more with their in-laws.

Survey results also point to the increasing need to control when and where people receive wireless calls, and the ability of short messaging service to promote wireless etiquette. An overwhelming majority (87 percent) of respondents said they have heard someone talking loudly on a wireless phone about a topic that should have remained private and confidential. However, 88 percent of people surveyed recognize mobile messaging would have provided a simple easy solution to such awkward and inappropriate moments.

The increasing popularity of Verizon Wireless Mobile MessengerSM short text messaging seems to bear out the results of the survey conducted in March 2002 by the research firm of Penn Schoen and Berland Associates. Verizon Wireless customers are sending and receiving more than 2 million messages every day, up 86 percent during the first quarter of 2002, compared with the previous quarter.

Other interesting facts and trends identified in the survey include:

  • Text messaging is like "call-waiting" that enables people to do two things at once. Favorite venues for multi-tasking are while at the movies (58%); at loud sports games or concerts (41%); at lectures or classes (39%).
  • Instant messaging has greatly influenced consumer expectations about speed. Ninety-two percent of those surveyed indicate speed is important when sending and receiving text messages.
  • Popularity of text lingo is driven by the need for brevity. There was widespread recognition among all respondents for shorthand abbreviations like: the smiley face, :) (78%); BRB for Be Right Back (66%); LUV (44%) and TTYL for Talk To You Later (39%).
  • What consumers want - text messaging is a tool for everyday living. What would tech-savvy people prefer to receive via SMS? E-mail ranks first in terms of information those surveyed would most like to receive on their cell phone (81%), followed by weather forecasts (52%), traffic reports (44%) and news updates (41%). Playing games came in fifth, which suggests the value of text messaging as a tool for everyday living, not just a way to pass idle time.

Survey participants were taken from a general Internet audience of 15-40 year-olds who are current wireless phone and Internet users and familiar with text messaging technology. The study's margin of error is +/- 4.3 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.

About Verizon Wireless

Verizon Wireless is the nation's leading provider of wireless communications. The company has the largest nationwide wireless voice and data network and 30.3 million customers. Headquartered in Bedminster, NJ, Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD). Find more information on the Web at

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