Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) usage rises in Latin America as a consequence of consumer desire to share content driven by social communities and smartphone adoption

Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) usage rises in Latin America as a consequence of consumer desire to share content driven by social communities and smartphone adoption

  • Usage of Value-Added Services continues to grow across LATAM, especially in Argentina where it now accounts for nearly half (49.4%) of operator services sales
  • Brazil has seen double digit growth in SMS/MMS usage and revenues despite popularity of OTT/chat and IM services
  • Across LATAM mobile phone users increasingly communicate using a variety of multi –channel messaging services.
    Acision, a global leader in mobile messaging, today announced the combined results of its three MAVAM (Acision Monitor of Mobile Value Added Services) research reports from across the Latin American (LATAM) market.  The current wave of MAVAM reports analysed the evolution and usage trends of Value Added Services (VAS) in Brazil (eleventh edition), Mexico (fourth edition) and Argentina (third edition) in the second quarter of 2013.

The MAVAM reports highlighted that the number of mobile subscribers across LATAM continues to grow at a strong pace, resulting in the increased usage of value-added services (VAS) and growing total revenues generated by regional mobile operators. The biggest quarterly growth was in Argentina, where VAS accounted for 49.4% of operator services sales in the second quarter of 2013 and represented an increase of 30.7% compared to the same period in 2012. This tremendous growth was echoed in Brazil as operators saw VAS revenues increase by 25.5% to R$3.57 billion (USD $1.72billion) during the same period. Mexico remains in third place with VAS sales increasing by 13% compared with the same period in 2012.

The rise in popularity of smartphones across the region has progressively brought the internet into the hands of subscribers. Brazil saw the biggest growth in VAS revenues from Mobile Internet, which accounted for 58% of VAS sales, followed by Argentina (34.08%) and Mexico (32%). Brazil has also seen double digit growth in the use of both SMS and MMS with second quarter revenues growing by 10.9%, equivalent to R$ 1.18 billion (USD $0.57 billion) compared to the same period in 2012.  This was achieved despite the increasing popularity and adoption of over-the-top (OTT)/ chat and IM services with smartphone users.

This trend was also reflected in Argentina where SMS and MMS were also highly lucrative sources of revenue for local operators. In the second quarter of 2013, SMS/MMS services generated 57% of VAS revenues, accounting for more than $ARG2.9 billion (USD $570 million) in sales, and represented the best-selling VAS in the region.

According to the research, Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) saw an increase in its usage across the whole of the LATAM region due, in part, to the rise of smartphones capable of sending multimedia content and the greater demand to share this content driven by social networks.  In Mexico for instance, 78% of smartphone users reported to have used MMS services at least once during the second quarter; compared with 34% in Argentina and 30% in Brazil. 

Unlike some countries in Europe, Latin America is still not showing any significant cannibalisation effects from instant messaging (IM) and OTT platforms towards traditional messaging platforms.  Brazil, by way of example, has seen one of the highest increases in MMS adoption with over 50% of smartphone users stating that they had increased the use of multimedia messaging during the last year. When asked about the reasons for this increase, 40% of those surveyed stated that their increased usage related to receiving increased multimedia content from friends, while 30% identified improved mobile camera functions on their phones as key factors.

According to Fatima Raimondi, Acision’s SVP and General Manager for Latin America, "Messaging habits are evolving with the introduction of smart devices and new services.  Users have a desire to share rich media, whether they have internet access or not, driven by the social media and content sharing age we now live in. This growing use of multi-media content, the adoption of smartphones and the increase in mobile internet services also seems to be having an effect on the usage of existing services such as MMS where we have seen growth in markets like Brazil.”

Instant Messaging (IM) has also seen strong adoption by smartphone users across the region, especially in Mexico where an astonishing 98% of smartphone users surveyed used at least one instant messaging application.  The percentage in Argentina was slightly less at 86% of smartphone users, but of these, 66% also stated that they used a further two or more applications at the same time. This increasing use of multi-channel messaging, both in terms of IP based messaging, text and picture messaging seems to be becoming the norm.  In Mexico, for example, 53% of smartphone owners stated that they use two or more messaging platforms concurrently in addition to traditional text and picture messaging. 

Raimondi concluded, “These behaviours further prove that OTT/instant messaging platforms can co-exist with the more traditional channels such as SMS and MMS, providing the user with a variety of ways to communicate and allowing them to fulfil their diverse messaging requirements. There is, however, a perception among consumers that traditional MMS can only be used for picture sharing so they turn to OTT/IM services instead – when in fact it can be used to share videos, music and more.  Operators have an opportunity to utilise this platform, which is already within their infrastructure, to drive further usage and provide a seamless experience for the user - ultimately driving increased revenue.”

To learn more about the MAVAM 2013 research, produced in conjunction with Convergencia Latina, or request the full reports, please contact corporatemarketing@acision.com.