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Report: SMS facing threats, thanks to instant messaging apps
Report: SMS facing threats, thanks to instant messaging apps
By: iMedia News Bureau

The Short Message Service (SMS) which gained great prominence in the early 2000 is increasingly becoming a passé. It is now being challenged by alternative messaging modes.

According to a recent report by technology firm Ovum, SMS contributed about 57% of non-voice revenues for telecom companies globally in 2009 but this is projected to fall to 47% this year.

Instant Messaging services like WhatsApp Messenger, BBM and Nimbuzz are becoming extremely popular these days.

The rise of alternative messaging services has slashed $8.7 billion from the revenues of telecom operators worldwide in 2010 and $13.9 billion in 2011, estimates Ovum.

Speaking to iMedia Connection exclusively, Syed Shahnawaz Karim, Marketing & Communications Head, Nimbuzz said,  “SMS as a mode of mobile communication is momentary in nature. With people gradually opting more in favor of data connectivity and diverse mobile communications and entertainment, applications like Nimbuzz are enjoying a strong spirit among the users. Today, users do not want to limit their communication  just to messaging, rather they want to move out of their environment  and endorse applications like Nimbuzz because of its bouquet of services like calling, video, group chat and a host of other social activities. Users can stay connected over long distances, across countries with instant messengers and also see the  presence of the recipient enabling live conversations. Also Nimbuzz gives users the chance to share images, music instantly and also play virtual games. With increasing smart phone penetration we have witnessed tremendous growth in Nimbuzz users globally and believe that the space holds a potential for us to grow our consumer base.”

The primary reason for this shift is the quick response time and the ability to have longer conversations over long distances, even between different countries, without any extra cost using IM vis-à-vis SMS. Additionally IMs also gives users an opportunity to share information, music, images, files, etc. and virtually play interactive games together. 

According to data of the Telecommunications Market Commission, sending SMS has been reduced by 33.5% in four years. In 2010, the operators in this sector revenue fell 19.8 per cent despite the resistance of these to lower the cost of text messages.

Data on the Nokia website shows that most of the top 5 downloaded applications (2011) from the Ovi store belong to the instant messaging category. These include Facebook chat, eBuddy Messenger and WhatsApp Messenger. The users of Nimbuzz have also increased to 90 million from 35 million last year.

The Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update reveals that, smartphones represented only 12% of all mobile phones in use globally last year, but accounted for 82% of data traffic.

RIM might be struggling in the smartphone market, but its BBM service is one of the best instant messaging platforms. There are over 55 million BBM users and 380 BBM-connected apps available in App World. This represents 20 per cent of the daily downloads from App World.