Of all four major communication modalities, texting reigns supreme. Phone calls are for older relatives. Video is for business meetings. Email is for non-urgent documentation. Texting is for everything. Its immediate, its simple and it slices through the clutter like a ninja star. Text messages are read, on average, within four minutes, versus 48 hours for email.1
Trendspotters predicted the texting revolution a decade ago. And now its here. Seven trillion mobile messages were sent last year.2 Seventy-three percent of people text every day.1 And these arent just throwaway missives. You can obtain a legal divorce in Malaysia by sending a text message!3
Free For All
How did this revolution happen? Simple. OTT apps are making texting free for everyone.
Service providers charge up to 20 cents per message for off-plan texting. This is a last gasp effort at pulling the wool over their subscribers eyes. At this rate, an everyday 160-byte message on a traditional carrier platform would scale to $1,310 per megabyte!4
The solution? Apps like WhatsApp, KaKao Talk, WeChat, Facebook Messenger, and Voxox are covering the globe with free texting and more. How are they able to do this? By using IP technology to avoid phone company surcharges. In-network texting is free. Out-of-network texting is pennies in comparison to traditional carriers.
The Great Migration
Free texting is fueling the largest technology migration since the mass-adoption of cell phones. But this is not a migration that abandons one hardware solution for another. Rather, it is one of mindshare or time spent using a particular application. In other words, people are not entirely abandoning their carriers texting functionality, they are instead preferring to spend the lions share of their time using third-party OTT text apps. In short, free texting has won.
This mindshare migration to free texting apps is also influencing application design. Apps like Facebook Messenger (for their notification design and innovative Floating Heads) and Voxox (for real-time text translation and overall user experience) are top industry examples.
Consumers Save Big
And the migration translates into big money-saving wins for users and big revenue losses for the phone companies. Traditional phone companies missed out on $13.9 billion recently as over 700 million people opted for free texting through OTT apps according to a 2012 Ovum report.2 This follows an $8.6 billion loss in phone company text revenues the year before. The report goes on to say that losses in profit opportunity will balloon if the big phone companies continue to allow themselves to be outmaneuvered by OTT apps failing to invest in less expensive and more innovative services.2
But dont feel too bad for the carriers. Their loss is your gain.
1. StrikeIron Blog: SMS Text Messaging Turns 20, by Kathy Jameson on Thu, Jan 10, 2013
2. Report: Ovum estimates that operators lost $13.9bn in 2011 due to social messaging, February 21, 2012
3. Malaysia Permits Text Message Divorce, BBC, July 2003
4. AT&T's text messages cost $1,310 per megabyte, Crunchgear.com. July 2008.