The death of SMS – but more messaging

Last updated: 20 March 2014

You may have seen the headlines last week proclaiming the ‘death of SMS’ and positioning SMS as ‘old-fashioned text messages’. Well, we all know that ‘bad news sells’, so let’s look at the good news around this.

Based on global predictions from Deloitte, communications aren’t dropping – quite the opposite. In fact, instant messaging is set to take over, with 50 billion instant messages forecast to be dispatched compared with 21 billion text messages this year.

It’s due to the likes of fast and flexible messaging services such as iMessage, Blackberry Messaging (BBM) and Google Hangouts, as well as Whatsapp, Kik and Facebook Messenger, according to the research. It’s particularly in the UK market where this decline in traditional text messaging has been felt strongly, as it’s a tipping point – the first time a decline has been noted. (And many bloggers and journalists are now looking to see who will win the race to replace SMS.)

However, older smartphone users are still fond of text messaging, and Deloitte’s study shows that one quarter of them will never download a single app!

So, it looks as though there is still an audience for the traditional text message as well as for the next-generation communicators. I also still believe that SMS has a strong role to play in a number of situations, whether in emergencies when data connectivity fails, for instant business communication (97% of all SMS messages are read within just five seconds, compared with email which is read within 48 hours according to mobile expert Tomi Ahonen), its role in mobile marketing given the consumer’s proximity to the mobile device, and its ability to transcend geographical, network and other barriers that newer platforms may struggle with.

Do you still use text messages? Do you think they’re on their way out or is there still a role for them in today and tomorrow’s world? Let us know below, and this will no doubt be part of a wider discussion at Mobile World Congress this year. If you’re attending, do come and see us in Hall 5 at Stand 5A80.