Feature Article

January 10, 2013

WhatsApp Already Represents One-Third of Mobile Message Volume

Mobile messaging traffic crossed the seven-trillion messages mark in 2012, according to researchers at Telco Consult, representing daily traffic of about 21 billion outbound messages.

In August 2012, the messaging service provider WhatsApp was processing 10 billion messages a day, representing nearly half of mobile messaging traffic. About six billion of those messages were “outbound.” That suggests WhatsApp alone generates nearly a third of total outbound messages each day, according to Telco Consult.

That is one reason for the carrier messaging initiative “joyn,” as well as a reason for concern about the future revenue that can be generated from messaging.

Keep in mind that WhatsApp can be used only on a device with a mobile Internet connection, and that might presently represent only about 24 percent of devices in use, according to Telco Consult.

Image via Shutterstock

Other social messaging players, such as iMessage, now process more than one billion messages each day. Viber estimates that approximately 20 million picture messages are sent via its service each month.

Carrier messaging traffic (short message service and multimedia messaging) grew by 10 percent between 2011 and 2012, and growth is expected to fall to about seven percent rates in 2013.

Telco Consult expects carrier mobile messaging traffic to plateau by 2015, and begin to decline in 2016. Those declines will affect revenue for text messaging, of course. Telco Consult estimates that $23 billion in revenue was lost in 2012 alone.

The issue is what to do about that revenue erosion and at the moment there are three basic positions. Service providers can launch their own services, affiliate with an existing over the top service provider, or basically “ignore” the challenge.

The new “joyn” platform is being adopted by some carriers to launch their own branded offerings. Others are working with the over the top providers.

But the “ignore it” position isn’t as dangerous as it sounds. If a service provider believes it stands to lose more revenue by offering OTT messaging than by ceding some share, it might make sense, at least for a while, to do so. The historical precedent was international and domestic long distance.

If a market is eroding, with virtually no prospects of halting revenue erosion, the wise choice might simply be to deploy resources elsewhere, in lines of business that are growing, rather than hasten the legacy product’s demise.

That increasingly seems to be a situation affecting messaging.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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