Mobile Market Report – SMS Usage in
SMS, the humble messaging service of the mobile world recently celebrated its 15th birthday, an
accidental invention that has demonstrated remarkable resilience and is still at the top.
SMS usage continues to grow every year with more and more new innovative ways of utilizing
its potential coming to the forefront. Indians are using SMS as an extension of their lives more
and more every year, an average Indian sends 29 SMS per month (TRAI data). It’s being used
not just to keep in touch with friends and family but to check bank balances, mobile bills, and
status of train/flight to name a few.
The following market report looks at SMS usage in Urban India to shed some light on its future
and answer a critical question, “Is SMS here to stay or will it be replaced?”
SMS VAS in India – Perspective
SMS VAS Users – City wise Distribution
SMS is a popular medium for delivering Value Added Services (VAS); it’s a valuable revenue
source for service providers, almost 5% of service provider revenue comes from SMS VAS
services the highest revenue earning VAS.
Almost 20% of Urban Indians or 1 in 5 have used a SMS VAS service over the quarter ending
May 2009. On looking at the big 7 Indian cities, Delhities are the most avid users of SMS VAS
services, accounting for 6% of all SMS VAS users in Urban India followed by Mumbai and
Chennai at 5% each.
SMS Usage - City wise
Most Popular SMS VAS Usage
Receiving jokes via SMS on phones is the most popular SMS VAS service, subscribed by 1
in 2 SMS VAS subscribers followed by Astrology (47%), News alerts (44%) and Jobs (43%).
SMS Usage in India - Most Popular Items
Gender wise Distribution of VAS Usage
Males are generally more active users of SMS VAS services compared to their counterparts.
While males are more interested in getting sports updates females are interested in spiritual
and astrology quotes.
SMS Usage in India - Gender Difference
SMS VAS Usage Distribution by Age
On looking at usage of SMS VAS services by age, SMS related to “Stocks/Finance/Business”
are most popular among 55 years or older people while Jokes are the most popular SMS VAS
service for 18 to 44 years old.
SMS VAS Usage in India - Age Matters
SMS as a Marketing Tool
SMS is increasingly being viewed by India Inc. as a source of getting in touch with their
customers. This is evident from the fact that every second urban Indian acknowledged receiving
marketing/promotional SMS on their phone in quarter ending May 2009.
India: SMS as a Marketing Tool
The intensity of using SMS for marketing/promotions is quite high with almost 75% receiving a
minimum of 4 such SMS.
SMS – What’s in for companies to use the medium?
Companies offering downloads for ringtones/wallpapers/games use SMS as a marketing tool a
lot more frequently, 37% of Urban Indians have received a SMS offering such products,
followed by entertainment/media companies i.e. movies, music etc, garnering a 36% recall rate.
SMS Marketing in India Usage
Efficiency of SMS as a Marketing Tool
1 in 3 of Urban Indians who receive a marketing/promotional SMS take some action while 2 out
3 deleted or ignore the message completely.
Calling up to inquire (if number available) followed by forwarding message to others are the
two most commonly cited actions taken on receipt of marketing/promotional SMS. While 11%
also indicated they made a purchase on the basis of information received via SMS.
India: Efficiency of SMS as a Marketing Tool
SMS Marketing Effectiveness – The Battle of Sexes
Females are less likely to ignore and/or delete the message compared to males and are more
likely to enquire further i.e. by calling up customer service or walking into the store. However
males are more involved when it comes to using the coupons/discounts offered in SMS.
SMS Marketing Effectiveness – The Battle of Sexes
SMS Marketing Effectiveness – What’s Age Got to with it?
35 to 44 year olds are most likely to purchase a product(s) and/or service(s) based on information
received via SMS.
SMS Marketing Effectiveness – What's Age Gotta Do
SMS as an Advertising medium
SMS is so widely used in India that it’s now becoming a medium for advertising as well. Many
companies are using this powerful medium to advertise their offerings. 8% of the urban Indians,
approx 22 million have seen an ad in a SMS they have received, while 65% of those who have
seen have also read the advertisement message. Such high level of awareness indicates the
importance of this medium for advertising.
India: SMS as an Advertising medium
SMS is also widely used to get people involved in contests for products/services/games etc. 26%
of urban Indians have participated in a SMS contest with males participating more compared to
India: SMS Contests
Source of contests:
TV is by far the most popular medium for spreading awareness about SMS contests, 87% of all
those who participated in such contests found out about them via TV.
India: SMS Contests - TV Rules
SMS: Miscellaneous Uses
• 2% of urban Indians, approx 6 million have used SMS to get directions
• 7% have used SMS to get reminders for upcoming bill payments
• SMS was used as a tool for getting in touch with population by almost all national and regional
political parties in recently concluded federal elections. 10% of urban Indians received SMS
message(s) from one or more political parties.
How & What Mobile Phone Services does
India use – Report
India is currently the 2nd largest Mobile Market in the world after China, adding nearly 10-12
million subscribers on average monthly.
At the end of April 2009, Indian Mobile subscriber base was pegged at 403.66 million, as per
recent TRAI number.
Most of the Metro’s and big cities have nearly come to a saturation point, however, the current
phase of growth in Indian Mobile Market is in Rural areas that is now accounting for majority of
growth in mobile space.
Having said that, I thought it would be interesting for our readers to know how 270 million odd
Urban subscribers use their mobile phone
So here you go, some of the numbers may surprise you, while some may disappoint, but it sure
makes a good reading.
Which Indian City Uses Social Networking maximum through its mobile phones?
Nearly 10% Delhi Mobile subscribers use Social Networking services on their mobile phones,
followed by Mumbai & Chennai. No doubt, I see hoards of Delhites, tweeting from their mobile
Which Social networking site is most favoured by Indian Urban Mobile Subscribers?
Okay, we know Orkut is
the king in India be it web or Mobile, but what in the world is “Mycantos”, which accounts for
nearly 4% of urban India using it?. I am also surprised that twitter does not find any mention
here – Isnt it part of a Social Networking Phenomenon?
Which is the most favoured Mobile Search Engine by Indians?
Nearly 18.5 million Indian Urban Mobile subscribers used their mobile phones for searches, with
Google taking the numero-uno position with 5.76 million followed by yahoo with 4.58 million.
Which mobile site is used daily by Indian Urban Mobile Subscribers?
Again, no surprised here –
the winner is Google followed by Yahoo. Nearly half of Urban India uses Google daily on their
Which IM application does Urban India use on its Mobile phones?
A quarter (25%) of all urban Indians who use IM over their phone do so from an application that
came preloaded in the phone.
o Pre-Loaded IM Application – 25.7%
o Web Browser for IM – 19.1%
o Third party downloaded IM app – 16.8%
Which is the most popular IM service used by Urban Indian Mobile Subscribers?
Aha…surprises here – Yahoo! Messenger has narrowly edged Google’s Gtalk to become most
popular messenger service with urban Indian mobile users, with a 18.3% market share followed
closely by Google Talk (17.8%). Nice to see Yahoo beating Google, atleast somewhere :). I am
sure though next few months will see Google coming to No.1.
Which Indian Mobile service provider offers the most reasonable prices, Reliable Customer
Support and diver range of Products?
The state and Government run companies seem to score well in reasonable offerings column,
while MTNL and Vodafone score in the reliable customer support offering. Aircel followed by
Airtel top when it comes to offering its subscribers diverse range of mobile products.
Do Indian Mobiles subscribers participate in Mobile Contests?
Offcourse they do, that too in large numbers!
Almost 60% of Females
have participated in 1 to3 SMS contests and though this is higher than their male counterparts, in
frequency of participation males outshine females.
And what is the source of these SMS Contest? offcourse, it is dominated with TV. all reality
TVs, song and dance shows choose their winners via some or the other SMS contest and India
just loves it.
have a look
86% of all SMS contest originate from TV, followed by Newspapers and Internet.
Mobile VAS services report
Here are some numbers on how Urban India uses the Mobile Value Added Services offered by
SMS Based Value Added Services
Nearly 56 Million urban Indians used a VAS related SMS subscription service in March/April
2009 – out of which Reliance Mobile CDMA accounted for a quarter of all subscribers to VAS
SMS subscription service, followed by Bharti Airtel (18%) and Vodafone (14%).
Which is the most popular SMS service used by Urban India?
This number actually
surprised me – I had thought News and probably Jobs would garner most votes, but NO – it is
Jokes that used by 52% of Urban Indian Mobile users followed by Astrology.
Once conclusion I can definitely make from these numbers is that majority of mobile users in
India fall into Age group of 16-25 years !
Which are the popular VAS options that Urban India likes?
No surprises here – Unlimited Internet Access & better offers on SMS bundles are the two VAS
options that Indian urban mobile phone users look at while deciding on a service.
Which is the most popular M-Commerce Activity for Urban Indian Mobile phone users
Nearly 98 million of all mobile users have used mobile phones to recharge their card or pay their
phone bill –The second most popular M-Commerce activity is buying movie tickets (39.67
Which is the most popular VAS service used by Urban Indian Mobile Phone User?
“Finding out who called” and “informing people when busy” are the two other most popular
Value added services used by Urban India. Missed call alerts is used by almost 110 million urban
Indians while Talk/Voice SMS is used by almost 80 million.
Note: The above graphs / numbers are created by www.vitalanalytics.in. (let us know if you have
any questions on these numbers)