SMS usage, specifically person-to-person (P2P) texting, has declined rapidly in many markets, while its growth has slowed in others. However, there are forms of SMS messaging which do continue to see some growth -- in particular, within the enterprise messaging sector.
Furthermore, SMS has continued to succeed in less developed regions of the world, particularly those with a large number of feature phones, and those that have low 3G or 4G infrastructure penetration.
According to the latest worldwide study by Juniper Research, mobile and online messaging traffic will reach 160 trillion per year by 2019, that's up from 94.2 trillion this year -- equating to approximately 438 billion messages sent and received by users on a daily basis by 2019.
These traffic volumes incorporate SMS, MMS, Instant Messaging (IM), Social Media and Email.
Last year, email accounted for the largest share of traffic, at around 35 trillion messages per year -- although it's estimated that almost 80 percent (28 trillion messages) can be categorized as spam (sad, but true).
However, within the next 12 months IM is forecast to overtake email, generating almost 43 trillion messages annually. Juniper observed that the negligible cost of IM services has led to significant migration from SMS.
Their research analyst noted that messaging app service providers -- such as Tencent’s QQ, WhatsApp and WeChat -- now had more than 400 million active users, with WhatsApp reporting in excess of 30 billion messages sent per day.
Meanwhile, social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are continuing to experience sharp uplifts in usage, with Facebook alone now seeing more than 5.8 billion posts, likes and comments per day.
That said, the research found that enterprises continued to regard application-to-person (A2P) SMS as more reliable and secure than IM apps for services such as verification and notification, driving A2P revenues to more than $70 billion by 2019 -- that's up from $62.8 billion this year.
Other key findings from the market study include:
- Many OTT messaging players are in the process of diversifying their offerings across markets as diverse as food ordering, taxi bookings and payments. Examples would include Snapchat with their 'Snapcash' service, and 'LINE Pay' offered within the LINE app.
- So far, mobile network operators have been slow to implement Rich Communications Services, which will enable the provision of enhanced messaging services.
- The recent availability of joyn-enabled smartphones allied to greater commercial deployments should significantly boost traffic in the medium term.