Over the top chat applications are churning out more messages than SMS infrastructure, while the chat giants face growing competition.
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.
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
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.
|Est. User numbers
* Total mobile users; 189 million mobile-only users