Ever since texting began back in the mid eighties it seemed destined to be the most important communication tool available. Indeed it took off like wildfire beyond all predicted levels. Ever since then the growth has been phenomenal. According to forecast by Informa Telecoms & Media (www.informatm.com) SMS will remain a source of revenues and traffic for mobile phone companies until at least 2015.
Revenues in 2010 for Global SMS traffic was 110 billion and is expected to be 137 billion by 2015. Recently there’s been an upturn in the use of SMS in the emerging markets, mostly to deliver financial information to mobile phone users who would otherwise not be reachable.
But there’s a new pretender and it’s about to knock SMS texts off the top spot. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised to hear that Informa have now released data and analysis to point us to a future where Chat Apps such as WhatsApp and BBM rule the messaging roost. By the end of 2013 its estimated that there will be 41 billion such messages sent daily across the globe and that’s double the predicted number of SMS messages. On a smaller scale this differential can be appreciated even more starkly: each app user, sending messages, does so an average 32.6 times a day compared to the 5 SMS texts they may also send. The trend is clear. App usage for messaging services are on the increase.
Where this may be felt just as heavily is in the world of social networking site Facebook. Its not that Facebook is losing popularity but there’s a sense that youthful communicators are attracted to the succinct message properties of WhatApp type services. Again it would be a mistake to overstate this but it’s a different medium and probable one which is complemented by rather than than threatened. Perhaps there’s a synergy there waiting to be exploited.
As we noted in an earlier piece, the growth of the Smartphone and the relative decline of the so called Dumb phone sector seems to mirror this trend. But as industry insiders have noted, there’s life in the SMS market purely because the emerging economies by and large are not big consumers of the Smart phone technology. Hence communications via SMS will remain important and potentially grow until such a time as the SmartPhone dominates all regions of the world.