app based messaging overtakes SMS for the first time last year – what does this mean

Posted on July 24, 2013


What’s that ?
For some time now I and people like me have been predicting that SMS will stop growing, and that there will be an erosion of the use of SMS due to applications providing free messaging.
It seems that this is now coming to pass, and that more messages are being sent by non SMS means.  People are using BBM, Kik, Whatsapp, facebook, and many many others.  This is based on research numbers that show SMS carries c. 17 billion messages per day whilst internet is a little over 19billion.

Part of the reason for the move away from SMS, or texting if you prefer, is that the apps are mostly free to use,  and when it is part of another successful service (and yes Facebook, I am looking at you) then it is natural to use the instant messaging within, especially as these typically have presence information, so you know your friend is available or not,  something that is missing from the vast majority of SMS services.  [as an aside Vodafone 260 tried to provide presence information for your SMS / MMS inbox,  however it did not really take off]

So is this the death of SMS ?
No I don’t think so, because SMS is ubiquitous, and therefore is a safe way to communicate. Although most messaging apps are free to buy and to use,  SMS are becoming all you can eat for a small fixed fee,  not many users are now paying text by text.

Will the app based messaging services continue, or will they flare and die ?
They will continue, and like sheep, there will be a movement of people from service to service for a few more years.  Whatsapp intends to charge a fee (subscription) soon, and when they do a large percentage of their user base will go else where.  Another example is Kik who are burning through their capital, and have just completed another c. $20M in funding.  There is no commercial model there yet,  and perhaps they are waiting to be bought by an operator / google type entity.  Even so, there is little income to be had, and that makes their long term survival doubtful.

Tagged: , ,
Posted in: mobile