Mobile users not so merry with their Christmas texts this year

Christmas greetings via text message are less popular this year, figures suggest.

O2, the number two mobile phone operator after Vodafone, recorded 20.6m messages across Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, down from 28m last year.

According to Eircom, which has about 20% of the mobile market, eMobile and Meteor customers sent more than 8m texts over the two days. Eircom could offer no comparison for last year.

Tesco Mobile, which has a small but growing share of the market, saw a 30% increase in texts over Dec 24 and Dec 25.

A Tesco Mobile spokesperson said it would take more time to get detailed reports.

Figures for other mobile phone providers were not available.

Mobile operators will no doubt be examining whether social media is impacting on the number of people sending text messages.

Switzerland’s largest telecom provider, Swisscom, said users sent 10% fewer text messages at Christmas.

It reported that, on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, Swiss people sent 24.4m messages, 3m fewer than last year.

Swisscom spokesman Sepp Huber said the downturn in text messages was due to an increased use of social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as smartphone messaging apps such as Whatsapp, Ping, and iMessage.

Twenty years ago, test engineer Neil Papwort sent the very first text message — “Merry Christmas” — from his computer to a mobile phone. He believes texting will always be around because it is cheap and reliable.

“Yes, the data is showing that it is starting to decline, but it’s not going to go away. There is a lot of use for it alongside all the data services,” he said.

Even with all the new technologies, Eircom has found that Irish people still like to talk over the festive period.

Meteor and eMobile customers made more than 5.5m phone calls from their mobiles over Christmas Eve and Christmas Day — 20 years of talking over just two days.

The calls translated into more than 172,000 hours, more than 7,000 days, or almost 20 years of talking over Dec 24 and 25.

Customers with smartphones had more than 8m separate data sessions surfing the web or using apps on Eircom’s mobile network over Christmas.

Even with the rise in social media, mobile networks in Ireland are still expecting a huge surge in messages between Dec 31 and Jan 1 as people celebrate New Year.


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