Most companies won't sell the data, not on any small scale anyways. Most will use it internally.
User tracking data is important for understanding a lot of things. There's basic A/B testing where you provide different experiences to see which is more effective. There is understanding how your UI is utilized. Categorizing your end users in different ways for a variety of reasons. Figuring out where your end user base is, and within that group where the end users that matter are. Correlating user experiences with social network updates. Figuring out what will draw people to your product and what drives them away. The list of potential for data mining and analysis projects could go on for days.
Data storage is cheap. If you track everything out of the gate, you can figure out what you want to do with that data later.
Scanning text messages is sketchy territory when there isn't a good reason for it. Even when there is a good reason it's sketchy territory. I'd love to say that nobody does it, but there have been instances where big companies have done it and there are a lot of cases where no-name apps at least require access to that kind of data for installation. I generally frown on that kind of thing myself as a consumer, but the data analyst in me would love to see if I could build anything useful from a set of information like that.