The mobile operators in the UK and elsewhere probably make a higher margin on SMS than on any other product. We think that about 30% of a UK operator's gross margin in derived from SMS and the percentage is rising. This report asks the question 'why should mobile operators launch any other mobile data products aimed at consumers?'. SMS now generates about £800 per megabyte of traffic. GPRS prices fall to about £1 per megabyte to heavy users. We conclude that operators may say that they are focusing on new consumer data services, but the reality will be very different as they work to protect their golden goose. In the long run, we think that SMS is vulnerable to Instant Messaging services introduced onto networks by innovative third parties. (In the US, where SMS has not really taken off, and thus the operators have no profits to protect, these applications are already available on some GSM networks).
The survey showed the typical UK consumer expects to keep his or her phone an average of 39 months. The most likely reason for changing would that the owner's existing phone no longer works. Younger consumers will replace their phone much more swiftly than the average.