A study by UK-based Portio Research indicates that the worldwide mobile messaging was the highest earner in the industry, raking in US$179.2 billion in 2010 alone.
The report said mobile message was set to rake in more than US$200 billion this year, and go beyond S$300 billion by 2014.
It said SMS (short message service) has consistently claimed the top spot and has long helped mobile network operators significantly offset the effect of falling voice revenues.
“SMS alone generated US$114.6 billion worldwide in 2010, and it promises to continue to play a significant role in revenue terms in the coming years,” the report said.
The report noted that SMS had seen very successful, having generated approximately US$585 billion for operators worldwide since it was invented in the mid-1990s.
Portio forecasts that SMS was still set to earn those mobile networks another US$726 billion over the next five years, to year-end 2015.
It however pointed out that, with the changing dynamics of the mobile industry and growth trends, there were signs that one day SMS would no longer be the biggest among non-voice revenues, adding “we envisage that the growth of worldwide SMS revenue will slow post-2011.”
Portio said the long-term future of SMS was less certain, but for now, mobile network operators should focus on the fact that SMS would generate more than US$1 trillion over the next seven years.
The report said MMS (multimedia messaging service) retained its status as the world's second most popular messaging service in 2010, generating some US$32.5 billion of revenue worldwide from a total of 249 billion MMS.
It also noted that mobile e-mail and mobile instant messaging (IM) are gaining popularity among subscribers.
The initial growth of mobile e-mail was driven by the enterprise segment, but lately - with the upsurge in smartphone penetration and discounted and unlimited data plans, among other things, the consumer segment has also started gaining momentum.
There were 480.6 million users of mobile e-mail services worldwide by the close of 2010, and it is projected that this customer base nearly quadruple by the end of 2015.
Worldwide revenues from mobile e-mail surpassed US$25 billion in 2010 and are projected to cross US$82 billion by end-2015.
Portio's new research finds that the worldwide mobile instant messaging user base stood at 311.2 million in 2010, and user levels are expected to reach 1.6 trillion over the next five years.
Meanwhile, worldwide mobile IM revenue stood at US$6.8 billion in 2010, and was forecast to cross US$31 billion by the end of 2015.