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Where Will All The SMS Messages Go When Texting Dies?

Jan 14 2014, 7:36pm CST | by

 
 
 

The humble text message is not disappearing overnight, but less SMSs will be sent in 2014 than in 2013. People are communicating more than ever, so these messages are going somewhere. For the handful of companies that can capture the public interest and a critical mass of messages, 2014 will be a very successful year.

The volume of text messages in the UK has dropped by 7 billion to 145 billion in 2013, and Deloitte is estimating that in 2014 this will drop to 140 billion messages (reports The Guardian). That’s still a significant number, even with the number of free texts that are included in call bundles on UK networks, but the trend is clearly downwards.

Once you add in instant messaging and other online solutions, it’s not a case of texts being forgotten, but messaging is moving away from the tied to the humble handheld text message to other services. App analytics company Flurry is reporting an overall rise in the use of apps of 115%, but the largest area of growth is in ‘Social and Messaging’, where the increase is closer to 150%.

I’m confident that 2014 will see a number of strategies to capitalise on this move, as apps and services vie to capture eyeballs and interest and become one of the three major players in the messaging market.

The immediate focus will be on standalone apps such as WhatsApp and WeChat. These services are well established and have robust clients over the major mobile platforms. WhatsApp especially has been able to catch the rising tide of cross-platform messaging and turn it into a successful start-up. Since August 2013, the service has seen inbound messaging volumes jump from 4 billion per day to 7 billion per day (writes Tero Kuittinen here on Forbes.com).

Mobile messaging will also be a growth area for established networks and companies. Facebook has long pushed their Instant Messaging system on mobile, with standalone apps on Android to make messaging easier, but those efforts are not having the same impact as those with WhatsApp’s user base. Facebook is seeing a drop in daily messaging numbers (Parmy Olsen, Forbes.com), and you can be sure they want that trend to go in the opposite direction.

There was a moment (probably back in late 2012) when BlackBerry could have opened up the BBM instant messaging platform to iOS and Android and had a good shot at being the cross-platform messaging system of choice. There was even a possibility that BBM could have been the course to take after the disastrous hardware sales in 2013, but new CEO John Chen has decided to focus on Enterprise as a safer bet. That’s not a surprise, as BBM would likely remain a niche player in messaging during 2014 without a huge investment in marketing with no guaranteed return.

It’s not going to be easy to become established in the messaging market. The Economic Rule of Three suggest that three ecosystems can be supported by the mass market. It’s likely that WhatsApp has enough of a head start to be one of those three, and (at least during 2014) SMS text messaging will be the second contender. That leaves space for one more cross-platform system that can reach critical mass, and a lot of companies will want that role. How they go about that, how they go about moving from start-up status to scale for billions of messages, and who will be the eventual winner, is another fascinating story around smartphones and mobile communication in 2014.

Who do you think is going to come out on top?

Source: Forbes

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