Chat now bigger than SMS, but there's life in the old dog yet

Chat now bigger than SMS, but there's life in the old dog yetThe humble SMS: for a long time it's been the mobile network's best friend, a no-cost add-on that's equated to little more than a licence to print money.

But no longer – the new generation of app-driven instant messaging services headed up by WhatsApp are now officially accounting for more messages per day than old-school text messages.

Research firm Informa has revealed that cumulatively, 19 billion messages a day were sent using instant messaging apps in 2012, versus 17.6bn SMS text messages.

By 2014, the firm predicts, the figure for WhatsApp and the like will be approaching 50bn a day. What's interesting, though, is that SMS too is expected to increase, although not as drastically, to just over 21bn messages per day.

What has change, however, is how much money networks are making from SMS. Informa says networks are “seeing a decline in their messaging revenues” because of chat applications. Ovum is prepared to put a figure on the cash drain, saying networks lost out on a massive £15bn of SMS revenue last year because of chat applications.

As you'd expect, it's mainly emerging markets that will be keeping the old-school text message in business for the immediate future. “There is a lot of life still in SMS,” Informa's Pamela Clark-Dickson predicted.

Markets where mobile data plans – messaging apps rely on a web connection, don't forget – are either non-existent, or prohibitively expensive, are going to keep the SMS in business for a while yet.

“There is an awfully big base of mobile phone users who are going to still find that SMS is the best messaging experience for them for a while,” Clark-Dickson said.

Via BBC (Image via Nokia Conversations)

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5 comments

JanSt / MOD  Apr. 30, 2013 at 11:08

I stick to sms... I don't wanna spend time figuring out who's on iMessage or whatsapp or viber or whatnot... Also: I got more free sms than I could possibly use evah :p
But I also don't wanna spread my private info and my address book to more and more 'free' services whose real business is trading in privacy! Do you actually think skype and whatsapp and viber etc are the chat-welfare? Their business is our privacy!

matt101101 / MOD  Apr. 30, 2013 at 13:31

I stick to sms... I don't wanna spend time figuring out who's on iMessage or whatsapp or viber or whatnot... Also: I got more free sms than I could possibly use evah :p
But I also don't wanna spread my private info and my address book to more and more 'free' services whose real business is trading in privacy! Do you actually think skype and whatsapp and viber etc are the chat-welfare? Their business is our privacy!

I keep trying to use Whatsapp and FB messenger etc, but I always end up back at SMS simply because if I've got someone's phone number, I know that phone accepts texts, they don't need to install a 3rd party app in order for me to be able to speak to them. My only issue with texts is their nasty habit of getting lost and either arriving hours late, or not arriving at all.

B1zarr0Prim3  Apr. 30, 2013 at 14:30

I stick to sms... I don't wanna spend time figuring out who's on iMessage or whatsapp or viber or whatnot... Also: I got more free sms than I could possibly use evah :p
But I also don't wanna spread my private info and my address book to more and more 'free' services whose real business is trading in privacy! Do you actually think skype and whatsapp and viber etc are the chat-welfare? Their business is our privacy!

I keep trying to use Whatsapp and FB messenger etc, but I always end up back at SMS simply because if I've got someone's phone number, I know that phone accepts texts, they don't need to install a 3rd party app in order for me to be able to speak to them. My only issue with texts is their nasty habit of getting lost and either arriving hours late, or not arriving at all.


I have whatsapp on my phone. The only time I've ever used it was when I had an issue with being sent the wrong sized sim for my phone.
Since then I've not used it.

mightyforest  May. 1, 2013 at 09:42

still sms here, be suprised if its ever surpassed

Stelph  May. 1, 2013 at 10:49

I use a mixture now on the iPhone , I prefer to use imsg with other iOS users and Whatsapp for everyone else, saves text messages and works overseas

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