Death of Text Messaging?


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“Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” – Mark Twain.

Recently I have noticed a lot of articles and blogs debating whether text messaging is a dying medium. In one corner, there are those stating that data plans are now threatening to kill text messaging across the industry. They indicate that text messaging is expensive, on a per megabyte basis, and that alternative data services such as Facebook Messenger, GroupMe, Google Voice, and now, iMessage – due out this fall – are providing viable alternatives to the text channel

While these are points to consider, I take another stance: Text messaging is alive, well and not going anywhere. Three observations I’d like to share:

  1. There should be no doubt that we are a very long way from seeing the death of text messaging. To the contrary, mobile users now send 8 trillion text messages per year. Consider the chart below with data released from Portio Research:

Text Graph

It is true that text messaging usage is starting to plateau, at least in some areas. In many mature markets, like the USA, there are signs of saturation. American teens, it turns out, will only send so many text messages each day. So, not surprisingly, the stratospheric growth rates experienced several years ago won’t continue forever.

2. Text messaging remains the most ubiquitous data solution in the mobile industry. Text messaging is native to all mobile devices regards of network type, phone manufacturer, operating system, or carrier. Almost every phone on the planet supports text messaging. No other data solution comes close to the reach of text messaging.

3. Alternatives to text messaging are fragmented and no clear winner is apparent. While it is true that social applications and other competing data services will encroach on text message, these tools are still very much in their infancy and we are a long way from picking winners and losers.

The entire conversation reminds me of similar articles five years ago when multi-media messaging service (MMS) was making a name for itself. Unlike text messaging, MMS supported unlimited message length, pictures, video, and audio. Some people in the mobile industry speculated that text messaging would go away because MMS was a superior technology. Now, five years later, MMS is still light years behind text messaging in consumer adoption.

The most important thing any organization should consider when creating mobile communication plans is flexibility. It simply does not make sense for a bank, utility, retailer, or health care provider to lock themselves in to single channel communication solutions. Organizations who only rely on text messaging, or only utilize the voice channel, will not be flexible enough to keep up with the changing mobile landscape and the dynamic communications preferences of most consumers.

How do you envision the future of text messaging?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Alan Berrey
Alan Berrey is the vice president of market development at SoundBite Communications and works closely with SoundBite clients to develop strategic communications strategies that leverage the power of the mobile device. He consistently seeks innovative technologies and solutions designed to enhance the effectiveness and response rates of consumer communications.


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