MESSAGING applications such as BBM and WhatsApp have overtaken text messages for the first time, and will represent double the volume of SMS by the end of the year, research shows.
According to analysts Informa, 19billion chat messages were sent every day via applications, compared to 17.6 billion texts.
And by the end of 2013, Informa estimates that 41 billion such ‘over-the-top’ digital messages will be sent every day, compared with an average of 19.5 billion SMS messages.
Although there are 3.5billion SMS users and just 586m users of apps such as WhatsApp, negligible prices make them much more likely to send messages.
Each app user sent an average of 32.6 messages a day, compared with just five SMS messages per day per user.
Although BBM launched in 2007, the growth of smartphones and services such as WhatsApp, which charge users less than a pound per year for unlimited messaging, has precipitated a rapid take-off in usage.
Informa noted that “Mobile subscribers’ adoption of OTT messaging has had a significant impact on mobile operators’ SMS traffic and revenues in some countries, including Spain, the Netherlands and South Korea. For example, mobile operators’ SMS revenues in Spain have declined dramatically, down from €1.1bn in 2007 to €758.5m in 2011.”
The analysts added, however, that “It is unlikely that SMS will die out anytime soon”. They said availability of services, and the uncertainty of whether a contact uses a specific app service, make WhatsApp and its peers niche players for now.
Facebook recently warned investors recently that "younger users" may be opting for "other products and services similar to, or as a substitute for, Facebook". These are though to include other social networks as well as messaging services such as WhatsApp.