Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Mobile instant messaging overtaking SMS

Mobile Instant Messaging to Overtake SMS

According to a recent survey from market research firm TNS Technology, Mobile Instant Messaging (MIM) will overtake text messaging and possibly PC-based e-mail. The TNS Global Telecoms Insight study interviewed 17,000 respondents across 30 countries, and found that once mobile users adopt MIM it overtakes other messaging tools to become the primary non-voice method of interacting.

Among those who use MIM, it is the most used feature on their phones: 61% use it daily, compared to only 55% who use SMS daily and only 12% who use e-mail on their mobiles.

The company also said that instant messaging is taking a larger share of all messaging communications, citing that now 11 out of every 100 messages sent by mobile devices or fixed PC globally are instant messages. However, among MIM users, 36 out of every 100 messages sent is an IM by their mobile, making this the dominant messaging form for these users. Surprisingly, MIM users also use fixed e-mail less with 21 out of every 100 messages sent via this medium, compared to 31 messages among all consumers.

“Once a mobile phone user has access to the Internet from their handset, the cost of instant messaging is next to nothing,” said Matthew Froggatt, managing director of Global Technology for TNS, in a statement. “With consumers being accustomed to instant messaging from their PC, and more mobile operators offering unlimited use of Web browsers, the take-up of MIM is going to increase significantly - leaving SMS and fixed e-mail from PC behind.”

TNS cited that 8% of all mobile users globally currently use MIM, with the highest number of users in Hong Kong (23%). Top cities in China are also seeing a high number of users (16%) with India (15%) and Brazil (10%) following closely.

“There are some notable exceptions to the ubiquity of SMS messages, like the United States where SMS did not take off until relatively recently and Japan where consumers moved straight to mobile e-mail,” Froggatt’s statement continued. “However, where mobile operators have profited heavily from SMS, these findings present a real challenge for their businesses. Do they try and keep consumers focused on SMS to maintain their revenue base, or offer consumers more choice in messaging? With increasing Internet functionality on new mobile phones, and MIM’s strong mass-market appeal, operators may have no choice but to promote this feature more widely.”

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