A new Juniper Research report forecasts that global mobile messaging traffic will reach 28.2 trillion messages annually by 2017. This increase nearly doubles the 14.7 trillion messages that will be sent through all of 2012. For purposes of the report, SMS, MMS, IM, e-mail, RCS/RCS-e and social media messages are all considered parts of mobile messaging (not to be confused with SMS-based text messaging, which is typically referred to as "texting").
As mobile devices become pervasive, the one component of mobile messaging that is becoming much more used than before is instant messaging (IM), which Juniper believes will contribute over 25 percent of all mobile message traffic within five years. In addition to AOL, Yahoo, BlackBerry Messenger, and Microsoft (and to a lesser extent IBM Lotus Sametime), which have been the traditional IM platforms for many years, services such as eBuddy, iMessage, Nimbuzz and Whatsapp (which are referred to as "Over the Top" or OTT players) are now also delivering an additional and non-trivial positive impact on mobile network operators’ messaging businesses.
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It's clear that smartphone owners find instant messaging to be a cheaper alternative to e-mail yet also a much richer messaging environment than SMS allows. Until recently, most smartphone owners would have had contract subscriptions with ample messaging allowances, but with the cost of these devices falling, more and more price-conscious prepaid subscribers will be able to access these services.
As we would fully expect, Juniper’s numbers also show that revenue from the traditional SMS and MMS operator services will continue to dominate the marketplace overall. The key here that continues to drive SMS and MMS is near universality - any text message (and for the most part any MMS message) sent from any provider will reliably find its way to any other user on any other wireless service. This pervasiveness - which is available even through the oldest of 2G networks - is a powerful issue.
Many ultra-sophisticated enterprises sporting the most state of the art possible infrastructures (including cloud-based mobile capabilities) look to SMS as the key delivery method for emergency messages. They do so simply because they can rest assured that a text message will always find its recipients without fail.
Aside from finding more sustainable business models, some IM service providers also need to be concerned with overcoming fragmentation between communities. For the most part IM platforms do not intercommunicate, leaving users to have to join multiple IM platforms.
Further details of the study, "Mobile Messaging Markets: SMS, MMS, IM, Email, RCS/RCS-e & Social 2012-2017," are available to download from the Juniper website.
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Edited by Brooke Neuman