Text Messaging Featured Article

What Can Mobile Service Providers Do to Protect Texting from Instant Messaging Alternatives?

May 10, 2012

The big issue about messaging is not whether people will do it. The issue is whether the ways most people use it in the future will rely on carrier-provided paid text messaging, or will they shift to over-the-top methods that don’t generate revenue directly for mobile service providers.

Vanson Bourne, commissioned by Acision, expectedly showed high usage of text messaging by most mobile phone owners.

Research found that U.S. consumers send an average of 107 texts each week. About 62 percent of U.S. smartphone users surveyed have unlimited text messaging bundles as well – an important stat since the economic incentive to use an OTT alternative is relatively low.

That’s not so much the case in many other markets, where messaging tariffs are high and many messages are charged at international rates.  In those situations, the end user value is obvious: OTT saves money.

Mobile service providers lost $8.7 billion in lost text messaging revenues in 2010, and $13.9 billion in 2011, suggest researchers at Ovum. That represents about six percent of total messaging revenue in 2010 and nine percent of 2011 messaging revenues.

Still, 55 percent of U.S. smartphone owners surveyed by Vanson Bourne also stated they use SMS alternatives.

Smartphone owners said the top three reasons to use OTT instant messaging services, rather than text messaging, were enhanced features, including content sharing (28 percent), speed (27 percent) and “works across devices” (25 percent).

Only four percent of smartphone users said instant messaging is more reliable and faster than SMS. The implication is that additional features could make a big difference in use of carrier-provided text messaging, rather than instant messaging.

When asked about SMS based personalized services, a significant portion of respondents indicated they would be likely to use message delivery notifications (36 percent), black/white listing (33 percent); message search (29 percent); and group messaging (32 percent).

Almost a third of respondents (28 percent) said they would even be willing to pay for these enhanced features.

As typically is the case, nobody can be entirely sure how real-world consumers actually would behave, compared to what people tell researchers they will do, or want to do.

Edited by Braden Becker
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