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Wednesday, 29 February 2012 00:55

SMS still dominates mobile messaging


SMS still dominates mobile messaging, even as operators take steps to launch IP based messaging services to remain competitive in the messaging market, according to data company, Ascion.

Reacting to the comment by Ascion at the Mobile World Congress currently being held in Barcelona, Spain, analyst firm Ovum says that there is no doubt that SMS is currently a sound revenue stream, drawing in just under $153 billion in 2011.

However, according to Ovum analyst, Neha Dharia, the firm's report - 'Casualties of Social Messaging'- reveals, that there is an increasing shift towards IP based messaging and even though this shift is bound to the smart phone using demographic, 'it has still managed to lose operators $13.9 billion in messaging revenue.'

According to Dharia, the loss in revenue accounts for nine percent of total messaging revenue, which he says is a 'large enough drop for operators to sit up and take notice of the new threat on the very near horizon.'

'Operators are planning to offer their own IP based voice and messaging services, including the rebranded RCS, to be known as Joyn,' Dharia says.

In a report on its own website, Ascion says that research it commissioned reveals that SMS still dominates the mobile messaging market when compared to other messaging services such as 'Over the Top' (OTT) Instant Messaging (IM) services.  According to Ascion, the research by Vanson Bourne, revealed that 95 percent of all respondents questioned stated they actively use texting, significantly more than the smartphone owners actively using OTT/IM services such as Facebook Chat (37%), Skype (20%), Twitter (17%), Blackberry Messenger (17%) and WhatsApp (16%) - the five most popular OTT/IM services today.  

Ascion chief executive, Jorgen Nilsson says reports that suggest that SMS is on its deathbed, it seems, 'have been greatly exaggerated.'  'In fact, it appears that smartphone and feature phone owners alike are united by their affection for text messaging. What is interesting is that SMS seems to excel on devices that have been more commonly associated with IM services. Based on these results, we can see a long and healthy future for SMS, the first and still the greatest of mobile applications,' Nilsson concludes.

Based on interviews with 1000 mobile device users in the UK across smartphone (63%) and feature phone (37%) owners, the Ascion research reveals that SMS proves most popular with smartphone owners, with 93 percent of this demographic reported using SMS, and with three out of four stating a clear need for SMS (74%) - 51 percent of which say they would be lost without it, despite the ability to access different OTT/IM messaging services on a smartphone.

Nilsson says this highlights the immense value and dependence of text messaging in consumers' lives today.

In order to test the appetite for rich communication suite type services (RCS and RCS-e), respondents to the Ascion survey were asked to rate a service offered by their operator that would include IM, file transfer, group chat and video sharing, and allow them to exchange messages with all SMS and MMS users. According to Ascion, only five percent of UK smartphone users said they would not use such a service and 68 percent said they would be happy to pay for such services, 'highlighting the revenue-generating potential messaging still has to offer.'
Nilsson says that, after looking at the survey results, it is clear that while IM is growing in popularity it 'still has a long way to go to catch up with the reach, reliability and ubiquitous nature of SMS.' He cites Juniper Research's prediction that mobile IM will exceed 1.3 billion users by 2016, compared to over five billion users with access to SMS today.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired in 2020. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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