Battle of the messaging apps

 ·26 May 2013
Messaging blackberry BBM gtalk mxit chaton skype whatsapp

Over the top chat applications are churning out more messages than SMS infrastructure, while the chat giants face growing competition.

According to analytical firm, Informa, IP-based platforms such as WhatsApp and BBM are carrying more messages than SMSes.

However, while Informa says that 2012 saw 19 billion messages sent over third-party apps versus 17.6 billion text messages, there are still more people using SMSes than apps.

According to Informa, there were 3.5 billion SMS users in 2012, while there were only 586 million users of the apps measured in the study.

Informa looked at 6 apps: WhatsApp, BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), Viber, Nimbuzz, Kakao Talk and Apple’s iMessage.

Other applications that were not counted include, Facebook Messenger, TenCent, Skype, 2Go and Mxit.

While SMS users still far outweigh app users, chat apps are expected to boom by 2014, with the analyst firm predicting mobile users to send 21 billion text messages versus 50 billion app-based messages.

Sinking ship?

South African mobile operator, Vodacom has noted a decline in revenue from text message services.

In November 2012, Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub said that while South Africa had a relatively low SMS penetration (under-penetrated by as much as 58%), the operator expects the revenue decline from text messages to continue.

Joosub said that the arrival of devices like BlackBerry, through its messenger service, had eaten away at the group’s messaging revenue.

Now with BBM going multi-platform, and many other apps to choose from, the impact may be accelerated as the chat giants fight for market.

Battle of the apps

BlackBerry recently announced that it would be releasing its BlackBerry Messenger platform on iOS and Android, effectively competing head-on with the like of Skype and WhatsApp.

In April 2013, WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum announced that the cross-platform instant messaging application had overtaken Twitter in terms of monthly active users.

He didn’t specify the figure, but said that the number was north of 200 million users.

Add to the mix of chat apps fighting for supremecy the recent launch of Google Hangouts, and you’ll find BBM, Skype, Facebook Messenger, Google and WhatsApp are now competing – cross-platform – to be the chat app king.

Application Est. User numbers
Facebook Mobile 751 million*
Skype 280 million
WhatsApp 200 million
Tencent WeChat 194 million
BBM 60 million
Mxit 7 million

* Total mobile users; 189 million mobile-only users

More on mobile messaging

Tencent triples active chat users

Facebook boosted by mobile ad revenue

Mobile messaging takes on Facebook

Mobile messenger war

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