The rising popularity of OTT (Over The Top) messaging services like BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), Apple's iMessage, MXit, WhatsApp, facebook messenger and Skype is starting to knock short message service (SMS)/Text volumes in mature markets.
Android is reportedly working on its own free messaging service.And, as already Android has major chunk of the smartphone market, it is definitely eat into mainstream SMS/Text messaging.
Facebook has released an update to its messenger platform that is said to potentially pose a serious threat to already embattled BlackBerry and its BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service.
The updated Facebook Messenger app is now available for BlackBerry, in addition to iOS and Android. While the latest Facebook apps for smartphones include native chat features, the messenger app is a standalone app that is an extension of Facebook messages.
According to Goldstuck, in SA, MXit is still the most widely used messaging platform at present, followed by BBM – with both showing strong growth.
“iMessage is almost non-existent at this stage, since it is part of iOS 5, which is probably in use by less than 2% of the mobile market here,” says Goldstuck.
“WhatsApp is the dark horse, having come from nowhere last year to having strong mind share now – but still not significant market share.
“However, Nokia`s pushing of WhatsApp from the low end, and iPhone users pushing it from the high end, in the absence of an Apple equivalent previously, means that we are seeing strong take-up right now,” says Goldstuck.
The trend is highlighted in new figures from the Dutch telecoms regulator, OPTA, which shows a significant decline in the number of SMS sent in the Netherlands in 1H 2011 compared to the previous six-month period. The country's largest operator, KPN, has also reported declining year-on-year messaging volumes over the last few quarters due to what it calls "changing customer behavior." Wireless Intelligence has also identified falls in SMS volumes over the same period in markets such as France, Ireland, Spain and Portugal. The latest update of Facebook`s instant messaging service now makes it available on BlackBerry, Android and Apple devices.
“Ultimately, instant messaging will have to be cross-platform for any one solution to become ubiquitous.”