Mobile instant messaging (IM) adoption in Europe will grow from 8 percent (26.7 million subscribers) in 2007 to 24 percent (80 million subscribers) by 2013, according to a new study by Forrester Research, Inc. (Nasdaq: FORR). Forrester¿s mobile IM forecast is based on a survey of 22,000 consumers across France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and the UK.

Three years after the first mobile IM service launched, Forrester believes operators still lack a true commitment to backing the technology because of fears that mobile IM will cannibalize revenue from their highly profitable text messaging services (SMS). But mobile IM¿s growth is inevitable and operators¿ fears of revenue erosion are greatly overstated according to Forrester Research Analyst Niek van Veen.

¿Young consumers¿ familiarity with PC-based instant messaging and the growing number of IM-capable phones entering the market will drive adoption,¿ said van Veen. ¿Mobile IM and SMS are complementary services. Forward-thinking operators will embrace mobile IM as an opportunity to differentiate themselves from the competition. They will integrate IM with their existing services to build their brand around an enhanced customer experience based on the allure of Social Computing.¿

Further findings from the Forrester report:

  • Sweden and the UK will lead in mobile IM adoption with 35% and 31% of subscribers using mobile IM respectively by 2013.
  • Mobile IM will displace 13 percent of SMS traffic by 2013. In Sweden, where SMS usage is low and mobile IM uptake high, mobile IM will replace 28 percent of SMS traffic; in Spain, where the opposite is true, it will replace just eight percent of SMS traffic.
  • Text messaging will continue to grow regardless of the increasingly popularity of mobile IM. Monthly Person-to-Person (P2P) SMS traffic in Western Europe will climb from 190 billion messages in 2007 to 233 billion by the end of 2013, despite the fact that some traffic will have moved to IM.

The report ¿Mobile IM Adoption Forecast Europe: 2007 To 2013,¿ is available now to Forrester customers and can also be purchased directly at:

Niek Van Veen, among other Forrester analysts, is available for comment on themes discussed at this years Mobile World Congress (formerly 3GSM World Congress), 11-14 February 2008, Barcelona. In particular Niek covers consumer behavior and business strategies around mobile services adoption and mobile internet. In addition, Forrester Analyst Pete Nuthall will also be available for comment. Pete¿s coverage area includes fixed, mobile, and integrated operator strategies.