Techdirt: Instant Messaging Eating Into SMS Text Messaging
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.