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IM Accounts for Majority of Mobile Messaging

February 20, 2014

When over the top (OTT) instant messaging apps started gaining in popularity, many mobile carriers began to worry that traditional text messaging was on the way out. After all, why would anyone want to pay for a text messaging package when they can text via their data connection for free? Now, a new report from Juniper Research suggests that these fears weren’t unfounded — at least to an extent.

Put simply, the report states that OTT apps now account for 75 percent of all messaging traffic, amounting to about 63 trillion messages in total by 2018. And yet, that’s not the full story. Despite their ubiquity, OTT apps will only generate two percent of the mobile messaging market’s revenue, which currently sits at over $3 billion.

The report — entitled Mobile Messaging Markets: IM, Social, SMS, MMS, Email, RCS/RCS-e 2014-2018 — also states that, while a number of factors come into play in explaining instant messaging’s popularity, the primary one is that people use such apps differently than they do SMS. In other words, people tend to be chattier when instant messaging, sending up to 10 messages to convey what would usually amount to a single text message.

The use of stickers, emoticons, images and group conversations also serve to balloon the number of messages sent via OTT apps. Finally, the report also states that, especially in younger demographics, people tend to install and use multiple messaging apps. According to the report’s author, Sian Rowlands, the uptake of IM apps has grown significantly over the past 18 months, which led to Juniper revising its forecast.

When taking all of this into account, as well as the fact that SMS marketing is on the rise in areas like South Africa, it seems pretty clear that SMS is here to stay. As for OTT app providers, the challenge going forward will be to find new ways to generate revenue.

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

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