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April 22, 2013

SMS Text on the Decline in China as Mobile Web Chat Dominates

Mobile users in China may want to start reconsidering that unlimited SMS text plan. According to a report from China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), although general use of SMS messaging services has experienced an annual increase of 0.5 percent, the increase only applies to group texts.

Person-to-person text messaging in China has decreased by 11 percent in the last year. People in the region are far more into mobile chat apps than they are into traditional texting.

According to MIIT's report, during the first quarter of 2013, more than 22 billion mobile instant messages were sent, constituting a growth of 37.6 percent from last year. Included in this figure were over 1.3 billion peer-to-peer messages – a category that is up by 15.6 percent from last year. The average user in China sent 2.1 mobile instant messages in this period, up 11.2 percent from last year. The report also relays that overall usage of Internet by mobile device has rocketed – the category is up by 56.5 percent from last year.

Image via Shutterstock

WeChat is one of China’s free mobile messaging service. It holds more than 400 million users and gets more and more popular in China. The service is currently free, though a recent survey indicated that 90 percent of its users would abandon the service were it to begin charging fees – a sentiment which could put a crashing halt to this trend.

Chinese telecom service providers could possibly inflict that stipulation. The conflict between the state-owned enterprises and the privately-owned technology firm has taken on a symbolic stature, prompting the question, “How can a Communist state maintain autonomous power with technology firms, whose spirit is so entrepreneurial in essence, on the rise?”

One way for Chinese telecom services to fight back is to spruce up their own mobile chat offerings. Last week, China Mobile, a telecom service provider, announced it will be taking bids from third party to revamp Fetion, its internal mobile messaging service.

Edited by Rachel Ramsey

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