Data Services on wireless (GSM) devices have started getting response from Pakistani consumers. Text Messages (SMSes) in particular have experienced tremendous growth in the recent months; when we look at number of text messages exchanged by Pakistani cellular users, it is clearly indicating the growth rate hitting as high as 30 percent mark.
PTA’s recent quarterly report says that Pakistanis, on average, exchanged 68.51 Million text messages per day during January-March 2008; that’s something very mind-blowing with 85 million users in the country, but our history says that we have never sent/received this much text messages before.
When we peek into reasons for this growth, one can easily term SMS Packages (that offer very low priced Unlimited SMS on any network) the sole responsible for it. However, other things that supported this growth may also include the political situation of the country, which evolved the idea of SMS based political campaigns during and after elections. Not only this, we saw SMS coming into play after November 3, 2007, during imposition of Emergency in Pakistan for exchanging news and ideas, while the electronic media was capped by the Musharraf Government then.
Increased awareness in Pakistani telco users can also be seen as a factor that boosted the usage of SMS. Using mobile phones for last few years, now we are getting familiar with mobile devices and their functionality. Now most of us can at least read/understand a text message. Cellular operators can further make the process easy by introducing (English to Urdu) translation services for SMS messages. Qtel has successfully launched such a service for its subscribers in Qatar.
Along with SMS, GPRS backed internet on cellular phone is also getting momentum. Specifically, the unlimited GPRS and hourly based internet packages by Zong are causing more customers to get them equipped with internet while on the go.
In this given scenario, we may expect acceptance of 3G services in Pakistan, given that prices are kept affordable. It must be noted that in developed countries text messages are loosing popularity when compared to email and IM.