Mark Bridge writes:
A couple of research reports this week have noted that text messaging and picture messaging growth is slowing down. Could this be the end for our trusty friend SMS and its bolder, brighter (and slightly flakier) sibling MMS?
Perhaps the beginning of the end, I’d say. But reports of their death are exaggerated.
Portio Research has just published the latest edition of ‘Mobile Messaging Futures’, its five-year forecast of messaging. It notes that the much-derided MMS service has until recently been the second-greatest revenue generating non-voice mobile service. For example, last year almost $31 billion of the total $202 billion generated worldwide by mobile messaging came from MMS. In total, MMS is expected to generate more than $250 billion from 2009 to 2016.
However, recently things haven’t been as good. Last year, mobile email generated more revenue than MMS.
John White of Portio Research said “The combination of smartphones and 3G has extended the novel idea of multimedia file sharing with appropriate simplicity. In addition, reducing mobile data costs make services/applications - such as social networking, mobile e-mail, photo-sharing clients and video streaming - much cheaper than MMS. Sharing multimedia with multiple ‘friends’ is virtually a click away, something MMS cannot offer - even now.”
Even despite this warning, the company isn’t forecasting an MMS decline - just slower growth.
The latest report at Strand Consult is headlined “Smartphones are helping kill SMS”. It’s blaming unified messaging for a decline in SMS, with consumers being offered a ‘seamless’ choice of SMS, MMS, email, Facebook, Skype and many other options. Instead of choosing to send a text message, they choose a contact and are offered a choice of options - and may even have an option selected by the device automatically.
Strand Consult’s research note says there’s “no doubt that these types of contact applications are moving SMS traffic away from the mobile operators”.
Yet SMS is still growing worldwide, albeit less dramatically than in previous years. Some networks may indeed be seeing a decline in messages sent from smartphones - but there’s still plenty happening in the world of SMS, from automated banking alerts to SMS voting.
‘Over the top’ instant messaging services, initiatives such as joyn and unified messaging apps are indeed a threat to SMS and MMS. But killing them? I think these tough old messaging services are rather more robust than they may look.