by Joe White
April 29, 2013
It's no surprise to hear that more and more people are using free instant messaging services, such as Apple's iMessage. In 2012, however, the number of instant messages sent and received globally actually overtook the figure for SMS messaging, indicating that the rise of the smartphone could be in the process of bringing about the demise of the paid SMS message. The news comes from Informa, who notes that 19 billion free instant messages were sent per day, on average, in 2012, compared to 17.6 billion SMS messages. This difference is going to have an obvious impact on the revenue generated by carriers worldwide, and one further research firm, Ovum, suggests that the approximate resultant loss could be as much as $23 billion. Apple's iMessage, which launched in 2011 with iOS 5, is an example of how instant messaging is overtaking SMS. As iDevice owners will know, once iMessages are enabled on an iPhone handset, the smartphone will send instant messages to other iDevice owners whenever possible. Furthermore, since iMessages are built right into the Messages app, the experience is a seamless one. The result can be said to steer iPhone owners away from SMS messages, and towards the company's free, albeit shaky, iMessages service. However, as originally reported by BBC News, SMS messaging isn't quite on its last legs:
despite the growing gap between the two, SMS will continue to remain a key player in the sector. "There is a lot of life still in SMS," said Ms. Clark-Dickson of Informa. She explained that most of the chat apps were used by consumers who own smartphones. However, she said, there are a large number of consumers, especially in emerging and lesser developed economies, who use normal mobile phones and rely on SMS as the preferred messaging tool. "They don't have mobile data plans, so 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," she added.Furthermore, Informa noted that businesses are starting to lean towards SMS messaging, since such messages can be sent to all mobile handsets, rather than being exclusive to more costly smartphones. Ms. Clark-Dickson added: "There are a few things that, I think, will keep the SMS alive for a few years yet." Do you find yourself sending more instant messages than SMS texts?