THE NUMBER of short message service (SMS) texts sent has fallen for the first time.
The Guardian reports that the number of SMS texts sent in 2013 fell by seven billion from 2012 to 143 billion. The research, conducted by the accounting firm Deloitte, also predicted that the number of SMS texts will drop again this year to 140 billion.
The decline is the result of the rise of more flexible fast messaging services including vendor specific iMessage, Blackberry Messaging (BBM) and Google Hangouts as well as independent services such as Whatsapp, Kik and Facebook Messenger.
Head of telecoms research at Deloitte, Paul Lee, said, "This is the first decline in texting in the UK since texting was invented. We have reached a tipping point. But the usage of mobile phones to send messages is stronger than ever.
"This year, trillions of instant messages will be sent in place of a text message."
For younger smartphone users these new methods, which bring with them group messaging, emoticons and other value added features, are far more appealing, with the study revealing that 5 billion instant messages (IMs) are sent in the UK every day.
This is countered, however, by older smartphone users, one quarter of whom, the study estimated, will never download a single app.
The SMS service has been around since 1992 and has always shown sustained growth despite a slow beginning. Originally, SMS messaging was limited to people on the same mobile network, limiting its appeal, until eventually cross-network messaging agreements were introduced, leading to exponential growth.
With the proliferation of bespoke messaging services that each have a walled garden approach, it seems inevitable that similar agreements eventually will be needed between such messaging services. µ