Costly phone calls, SMS forcing mobile users take to social messaging apps

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Apps dominating the mobile communications sphere while usage of standard phone calls and text messages gradually diminish.

Mobile applications are one of the fastest growing technology products that offer an array of solutions to mobile phone users. Recent reports suggest social messaging applications have costed mobile network operators losses worth $13.9bn in SMS revenues last year.

Ovum, an online analysis firms, studied global use of popular services like Whatsapp, Blackberry Messenger and Facebook chat and concluded that mobile operators should work together to face the challenge from major internet players.

Popular social networks like MXit and many other apps are widely used in Western world. Users prefer social messaging apps on their smartphones that use internet connection to send messages over the usually far costlier SMS – short message service – system.

However, the study did not analyse the extra income networks received from mobile data costs because of increased internet usage resulting from social messaging.

Neha Dharia, one of the research authors, said that operators must be willing to partner with app developers, sharing end-user data with them and also allowing integration with the user’s social connection.

“Working closely with handset vendors will also be important; they control some of the most popular social messaging apps, and can also provide preloaded applications,” she said.


Mobile analyst for Enders, James Barford, said that while the figures seemed huge, social messaging still represented a tiny part of the overall mobile communication. ‘Whatsapp’ and other popular services are becoming a popular replacement for SMS. However, he added that it isn’t a huge amount of the global industry.

“A lot of those people using those types of apps are using them to avoid international messaging. Sometimes they are avoiding costs that they wouldn’t have paid anyway – maybe in the replacement of email or some other method of communication.”

Study reports of research firm Comscore in April 2011 has suggested that 4 % of UK smartphone users use messaging through Whatsapp.

Survey by YouGov in June 2011 stated that 81 % of smartphone users still prefer SMS as main messaging services. He further added that the application services is a growing risk but can be managed through right tariffs and costing. Mobile networks are still the major networks for communication and people using them are willing to pay their higher charges.

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