Instant Messaging Eating Into SMS Text Messaging

from the but-of-course... dept

The old "accepted wisdom" was that folks in Europe communicated via SMS text messaging, while folks in the US were mainly doing internet-based instant messaging. There were a variety of reasons for why things developed this way, but it was a generally accurate statement for a while. However, even early on, some of us began wondering what would happen as the two worlds started to merge. That is, as mobile phones became more powerful and acted more like handheld computers, wouldn't users start to realize that instant messaging would save them a lot of money in terms of data costs. Especially with advanced phones like the iPhone, it seemed inevitable that "expensive" SMS would start to run into trouble. And, in fact, that appears to be happening. A new study in the UK (where SMS text messaging is huge) has shown that, as people start using instant messaging applications, their use of SMS text messaging drops significantly. The one exception, by the way, is with older users, who are comfortable enough with SMS and don't seem as interested in using IM on their phones. Either way, this has to be a concern for mobile operators who have a tendency to assume that high-priced services will always remain high-priced and in high demand.

Filed Under: instant messaging, sms messaging, text messaging


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  1. identicon
    Dave Beck, 1 May 2008 @ 1:36pm

    SMS is "store and forward" not "instant"

    Seems to me that the fundamental difference is that SMS is a "store and forward" system. If you want to contact or provide info, an address for example, then SMS is simple and quick. When the recipient is off-line the SMS waits until they are alive again. You could call and leave voicemail, a pain in the a**, or you could constantly watch your IM contact list and wait for the contact to come on-line (assumes you really haven't got a life). With SMS it's fire and forget and you can send to a list of recipients just as easily as one. No contest.
    Beck

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