Are smartphone chat apps taking over text messaging?

The moment has come, according to research carried out by Informa there were 19 billion OTT (Over-The-Top) messages sent each day in 2012 compared to 17.6 billion text messages.

Informa also say that by 2014 there will be 50 billion messages sent via chat apps compared to just 21 billion text messages sent.

What does this mean for text messaging? Well, in my opinion it means that the growth of text messaging will inevitably slow down, at least in the P2P (person to person) sector. Text messaging is still projected to grow, so it’s not as though chat apps are necessarily
replacing text messaging, but merely chat apps have a
different demographic and different use.

Chat apps, particularly the likes of WhatsApp, Viber, KiK and the like, effectively act like MSN messenger did a few years ago. People use them to chat to their friends, send pictures, videos and other media all for “free”; it doesn’t mean they are not still texting. Saying that each message sent from one of these chat apps replaces a text message is similar to saying an illegally downloaded song represents a lost sale. Who is to say that the song would have been purchased had pirating not been an option. Likewise, who can say that a particular message would have even been sent if only text messaging existed?

We, here at Esendex, are not worried about the claim that OTT will replace text messaging. In fact, we believe that text messaging is only just starting to see its golden years, as our CEO Julian Hucker explains, “in the next couple of years, we expect SMS to enter a ‘golden age’ for business communications.”

The growth of chat apps is inevitable and many network operators are starting to restructure their price plans, including making changes to data plans and making SMS more enticing for people to continue using. Many also believe that networks have an option to provide their own IP based communications service. They have access to a large subscriber base and could make a success of it, if done currently.

However, at the end of the day, SMS is the only ubiquitous messaging platform available on the mobile phone. The big problem with OTT messaging is that the recipient needs to have a smart phone, needs to have credit available or still within their data plan and needs to have the right app, otherwise you can’t guarantee the person will receive the message. With SMS, all they need is a signal.

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