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More than two trillion text messages are sent each year in the United States, generating more than $20 billion in revenue for the wireless industry. Verizon Wireless alone generates as much as $7 billion a year in revenue from texting, or about 12 percent of the total, Mr. Moffett said, and texting brings in about a third of the operating income.
This highly profitable product was something of a happy accident for cellphone carriers. Srinivasan Keshav, a professor at the University of Waterloo who studies mobile computing, said text messages were almost an afterthought when cellphone standards were being developed in the late 1980s.