SMS Text Messages Are So Passé
November 13, 2012

Text Messaging Numbers Are Down Thanks To iMessage Facebook Messenger

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

Texting was once all the rage in the mobile world. Carriers were able to charge outlandish per-message rates as many parents became irate with their children for running up the bills. With demand rising so high, the carriers finally relented and began offering many packages with unlimited data for one flat fee, essentially earning themselves a guaranteed rate every month. After all, the business of sending the tiniest packets of data across their network is easy, carries a low overhead, and yields a huge return.

Perhaps this is why many carriers became so visibly nervous when Apple announced iMessage along with iOS 5 last year.

Now, for the first time since texting has been available, the average American has begun to send less SMS text messages, according to independent mobile analyst Chetan Sharma.

This trend isn´t only happening in the United States, says Sharma, noting that Internet-powered alternatives have nearly taken over the SMS game in western markets.

According to his research, the average American has sent about 678 texts a month in the third quarter of 2012. This number is down from the second quarter of 2012, where the average American sent 696 texts a month.

This is a seemingly small decline in the average number of texts sent, Mr. Sharma says this is worth noting because it´s the first time there´s ever been a decline.

It´s not just Apple´s iMessage which is responsible for reducing the monthly average of texts sent, of course. Facebook´s Messenger is also often used on smartphones and has also taken its fair share of text-based revenue from the carriers. Both iMessage and Facebook Messenger work on smartphones and other connected devices, which Mr. Sharma says will continue to become more popular as time moves on.

“Smartphones are now past the 50% mark in the US and continue to sell at a brisk pace accounting for over 75% of the devices sold in Q3 2012,” writes Mr. Sharma in his report. He also begins this report by noting that the whole of the US Mobile Data market grew by 3% in 3Q12, with data bringing in 43% of the revenue for the largest of US mobile carriers.

While this report recognizes a new shift in the way people use their devices, it´s not likely the carriers need to worry at this time. At present, the carriers are still doing very well and posting profits with every quarter. It is true that certain customers could cut the messaging portion from their plan and depend solely on services like iMessage or Facebook Messenger. This move could save the user and extra $20 or so a month on messaging, but these services still rely on network data, meaning the carriers aren´t completely cut out of the deal.

If Mr. Sharma´s estimations are correct, however, it´s likely Apple´s iMessage could become even more popular in the coming years.

Samsung continues to outpace Apple in terms of units shipped, but Mr. Sharma notes that Apple “dominates both the smartphone revenues and more importantly just crushes the competition on device profits,” making them a healthy and powerful contender. iMessage is also available on the iPad, a device which, according to this study, takes home a whopping 95% of global tablet profits and outsells any other competitor.