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OTT messaging set to dwarf SMS in 2013

Messages sent using OTT services will be double the number of SMS by 2013-end

OTT messaging set to dwarf SMS in 2013
Messaging services such as Whatsapp have taken major market share from SMS.

OTT messaging traffic will be twice the volume of P2P SMS traffic by the end of 2013, according to data collected by UK research firm, Informa Telecoms & Media.

Daily OTT messaging traffic from players such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Blackberry, has already overtaken daily P2P SMS traffic in terms of volume, with an average of 19.1 billion OTT messages sent per day in 2012, compared with an average of 17.6 billion P2P SMS messages.

But by the end of 2013, Informa estimates that 41 billion OTT messages will be sent every day, compared with an average of 19.5 billion P2P SMS messages. There are far more P2P SMS users than there are OTT messaging users. Indeed, there were about 3.5 billion P2P SMS users in 2012, according to Informa, compared with about 586.3 million users of OTT messaging. Each OTT user sent an average of 32.6 OTT messages a day, compared with just five SMS messages per day per P2P SMS user, meaning that OTT-messaging users are sending more than six times as many messages as P2P SMS users do.

It has taken OTT messaging about five years to reach this point; BlackBerry Messenger was launched in 2007, and a number of other messaging apps have launched at various intervals since then. By contrast, the first SMS was sent about 20 years ago, with the first commercial service launching a couple of years later.

Even though SMS and OTT messaging are two different services, and are used in different ways by subscribers, Informa believes that a comparison of the average daily traffic of the two services is relevant, given that OTT messaging is increasingly used as a substitute for SMS in a number of markets.

Mobile subscribers' adoption of OTT messaging has had a significant impact on mobile operators' SMS traffic and revenues in some countries, including Spain, the Netherlands and South Korea. For example, mobile operators' SMS revenues in Spain have declined dramatically, down from €1.1 billion ($1.4 billion) in 2007 to €758.5 million in 2011.

However, it is unlikely that SMS will die out anytime soon. Informa forecasts that global SMS revenues and traffic will continue to increase through 2016, for three main reasons: The adoption and use of OTT-messaging apps is far from universal; although there are multiple OTT-messaging "communities" within which mobile users can message each other for free, OTT-messaging users typically use SMS when communicating with non-OTT users; and SMS is starting to hit its stride in the enterprise mobile messaging market.

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