Consumers Texting Less Thanks to Messaging Apps Like iMessage

In the U.S., consumers are beginning to send less text messages, or SMS, thanks to new apps such as iMessage, BlackBerry Messages (BBM), and WhatsApp. According to research date collected by Chetan Sharma Consulting, the number of texts sent and received on networks operated in the U.S. have declined for the first time in the third quarter 2012.

imessageWith the rise in popularity of smartphones, messaging apps such as WhatsApp and iMessage offer consumers a relatively cheaper alternative to a la carte or expensive SMS plans. Since most carriers already require a data plan with the use of a smartphone, messages sent through iMessage, BBM, or third-party apps like Skype, WhatsApp, Tango, and others rely on data, rather than SMS bundles, users can just stick to a data plan and not have to subscribe to an added SMS plan or pay roughly $0.20 per message sent or received.

Still, in a report on Fierce Mobile, consumers are still sending roughly about 650 messages per month and Chetan Sharma is reporting that revenues for text and voice are declining for the carriers. Consumers are beginning to turn their attention to data for the next wave of mobile communications.

Data represents approximately 43 percent of revenues generated by U.S. carriers. Sharma is reporting that voice traffic will account for about 10 percent of overall network traffic.

Consumers are using on average of 900 MB of data per month, or just under 1 GB of data. That number will increase and Sharma predicts that we can ‘expect data tiers to get bigger in GBs and dollar amount.’ In the U.S., the aggregate data consumed is expected to exceed 2,000 petabytes this year.

The problem with messaging apps and services outside of SMS/MMS is that it requires both parties to be on the same service and/or sign up with a user name. iMessage and BBM are well integrated at the OS level where users on the same platform can exchange messages quickly and easily. Apps like WhatsApp, Skype, and Tango require users–and the people they message with–to download a third-party app and register and sign up for the service. SMS still represents a relatively seamless way to send quick messages as it is neither OS, carrier, or device-dependent and requires no effort to download or register another service on the part of the sender or recipient of the message.

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