Peak Texting Still Years in the Future

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Tyler Cowen highlights this headline in the New York Times:

Text Messaging Declines in U.S. for First Time, Report Says

At first, I figured this was probably just raw math. If you multiply the total number of teenagers times the total number of hours per day times the number of text messages it’s possible to send per hour, that has to be a hard limit, right? And maybe we’ve finally reached that limit, where teenagers are now spending 99.9% of their waking hours texting each other.

But no. It turns out that texting hasn’t declined. Only a particular kind of texting has declined:

In the third quarter of this year, cellphone owners sent an average of 678 texts a month, down from 696 texts a month in the previous quarter….[Chetan Sharma] noted that Internet-based messaging services, like Facebook messaging and Apple’s iMessage, had been chomping away at SMS usage. He said the decline would become more pronounced as more people buy smartphones.

….The seemingly imminent decline of text messaging, which is highly lucrative for carriers, doesn’t mean they need to lose much sleep. Big carriers like AT&T and Verizon Wireless are still posting healthy profits, largely because of revenue from mobile data plans, the fees people pay to use the Internet over their networks. Among the top three carriers, mobile data accounts for about 45 percent of the average amount of money made from each customer, Mr. Sharma said.

So peak texting isn’t imminent yet. You may go about your business. Nothing to see here.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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