Instant messaging apps have overtaken SMS


Chat apps such as WhatsApp have already overtaken usage of SME according to Informa

Instant messaging apps used on mobile devices, such as WhatsApp, have already overtaken the mobile phone's killer app, SMS, according to research firm Informa.

Informa has stated that almost 19 billion messages were sent per day on chat apps in 2012, compared with 17.6 billion SMS texts.

As reported by the BBC, Pamela Clark-Dickson of Informa said some operators were already 'seeing a decline in their messaging revenues'.

This decline is now being fuelled by phone manufacturers, including Nokia which recently unveiled its Nokia Asha 210, a phone with a dedicated WhatsApp button, plus social phonebook integration with the ability to launch WhatsApp direct from contact cards in the phonebook.

Informa said that it expected the messaging on chat apps to grow even further in the coming years. It has projected that nearly 50 billion messages will be sent per day using these apps by 2014, compared with just over 21 billion traditional SMS'.

However, it said that despite the growing gap between the two, SMS will continue to remain a key player in the sector. Informa expects SMS revenue to grow to $127 billion by 2016, from $115 billion last year.

Provider of messaging services, Acision, has commented that its own research into over the top (OTT) services versus SMS showed a similar result to Informa's.  JF Sullivan, CMO of Acision, said: 'Our own research unveiled similar findings, revealing that 80% of UK smartphone owners are now using OTT or IM services, with 76% of these using both SMS and OTT plus IM messaging services together. It appears then that we are today witnessing a nation of eclectic communicators with over three quarters of all smartphone owners using multiple messaging services simultaneously each day, with 40% admitting to using them all the time.' Sullivan added: 'This evolution in the messaging space is a direct result of users today demanding a combination of requirements, including low cost, rich features and great service quality. Today, no single service on the market can provide this, and using SMS with OTT services like WhatsApp simultaneously can ensure the ubiquitous reach and reliability regardless of handset, network, or country which is a restriction of OTT services.

'Going one stage further, we believe that operators have a great opportunity to launch one consolidated messaging app, given their customer relationships, network infrastructure, ability to interwork across platforms and control quality of experience; they are uniquely placed to offer a single rich, unified messaging service, combining what consumers love about SMS, with the richer user experience they have grown accustom to with OTT and IM services,' noted Sullivan.

However, Adrian Sarosi, head of marketing at mobile messaging and payment  specialist, OpenMarket, defended SMS despite the research. Sarosi commented: 'Despite the huge growth in messaging apps, SMS remains the only truly universal service that works instantly across all phones at any time, worldwide. Although consumers now seem to prefer IM-style chat apps, SMS retains its value as a medium for effective mobile engagement. 'For marketers, SMS is the number one method for organisations, companies and brands to engage with large numbers of people in a way that is intuitive, familiar and affordable,' continued Sarosi. 'Get this right, and you forge a lasting and lucrative relationship with individual consumers by providing ads and offers that are relevant to them. Get it wrong, and you risk losing customers en masse and damaging your brand through unwanted and potentially intrusive promotional messages. Such is the ongoing importance of SMS.' Smart Chimps thinks: What will come out on top? Mobile instant messaging, which is free, or SMS, which we all have to pay for or are limited to a certain number of per month? Most people that chief chimp knows prefer to go for the likes of WhatsApp.nCould this be the end of SMS messaging, the killer app of the basic, feature and smartphone? The chief chimp thinks so.


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