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Markus Stocker

Between information technology and environmental science with a flair for economics, the clarinet, and the world of soups and salads.

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In my home country, mobile service providers have delivered over 106 million short (SMS) and multimedia (MMS) messages over New Year’s Eve (NZZ).

Think about this number, it is interesting. Switzerland has a population of 7,689,100 (Wikipedia, 2008 estimate); 13.78 messages per capita. The country counts 8.4 million mobile phone subscriptions (Wikipedia, Q2 2008); 12.62 messages per subscription. Let’s assume, it takes an average of 30 seconds to type and send a message (some type, some just forward); Swiss invested overall 100.84 years to send the 106 million messages. (Worth the time of 1.53 lives, Wikipedia average overall life expectancy at birth of World countries, CIA World Factbook, 2008 estimates.) With the incomplete figures it is hard to estimate the monetary value of 106 million SMS and MMS. MMS are typically more expensive than SMS. However, as the NZZ article suggests, the share of MMS is comparatively small. Furthermore, different providers, mobile phone plans and options have different tariffs for short messages. For the purpose here, I’ll assume the Swisscom cost for the transmission of SMS messages, Swiss Francs (CHF) 0.20; CHF 21.2 million worth in short messages over New Year’s Eve. (On a side note, more or less the amount the Pentagon spends per hour to produce new defense systems.)

Think about it; CHF 21.2 million and 100.84 years worth in short messages, in Switzerland, over a few hours. Of course, the monetary value is inaccurate, but we know; what Swiss spent in short messages over New Year’s Eve is certainly within one, most likely two, digit range of million CHF.

The only explanation I can think of to explain this is, we all think, CHF 0.20 is no value.