Chat apps supersede text messaging in global popularity


More communications worldwide are occurring instantaneously via chat applications than from SMS text messaging, according to a new report from research firm Informa.


CNET reported that during 2012, individuals around the globe sent over 19 billion chats and 17.6 billion text messages. By the end of this year, this gap is expected to widen as well. The research predicted that in 2013, people worldwide will have sent out 50 billion chats and 21 billion SMS messages.


“It’s official: chat apps have overtaken SMS globally,” Neelie Kroes, vice president of the European Commission’s digital agenda, wrote in an April 29 tweet. “The cash cow is dying. Time for telcos to wake up & smell the data coffee.”


The results of Informa’s research suggest that as smartphone and mobile unified communications usage rises, more traditional cellphone functionality – satellite-based calling and SMS messaging – are declining. However, GigaOM cautioned that this may not necessarily be the case. Chat applications have clearly become more popular in regard to messaging volume, but the numbers do not definitely point to a mass exodus from text messaging.


In particular, GigaOM noted that while the number of messages sent via chat applications is on the rise, the number of end users may not be increasing. Rather, Informa’s research may suggest that people using these apps could be more frequently collaborating with others than adopters of text messaging. While the average chat app end user sends more than 32 messages daily, the typical SMS end users writes approximately 5 text messages a day.


While the news source did question some of the conclusions of the report, GigaOM agreed with Kroes’s assessment overall. Chat applications may not totally replace text messaging in the near future, but Informa’s research illustrates the rapid rise of hosted collaboration solutions and IP-based communications. As global internet usage rises and as end users gain more connectivity from mobile devices, the gap shown by the report between traditional cellphone communication formats and newer modes will likely widen.