Mobile messaging traffic will almost double by 2017, according to a new research report.
Globally, mobile messaging traffic will hit 28.2 trillion annually over the next five years, which is almost twice as much as the 14.7 trillion messages that will be sent in 2012, communications analysts at Juniper Research said.
These mobile messages include SMS, MMS, IM, Email, RCS/RCS-e and Social Media messages.
Growth in total traffic will be primarily driven by the use of instant messaging services, which will comprise over a quarter of all traffic annually in five years time, analysts said.
OTT (Over-the-Top) services such as eBuddy, iMessage, Nimbuzz and Whatsapp are already impacting mobile network operators’ messaging businesses as smartphone owners find instant messaging a cheaper alternative.
Until recently, most smartphone users would have had contract subscriptions with ample messaging allowances. However, analysts indicated that with the cost of these devices falling, more and more price-conscious prepaid subscribers will be able to access these services.
Juniper’s forecasts also show that revenues from traditional operator services – SMS and MMS – will continue to dwarf those of instant messaging.
Many IM services are operated by hardware vendors and Internet brands driving consumers to their primary products, while those that are monetized directly are reliant on in-app advertising.
Aside from finding more sustainable business models, forecasts show that some IM service providers also need be concerned with overcoming fragmentation between communities.
“SMS is 30 years old; but it is still going strong because a text message will reach almost anyone," said report co-author Daniel Ashdown.
Juniper’s report also found that some OTT players are overcoming this problem with NUVOs (Network Unaffiliated Virtual Operators), which provide users with a real phone number. Pinger and textPlus are two that have been successful in the North American markets.
Other report findings include RCS/RCS-e facing challenges despite the positive early movement, SMS traffic remaining the largest type of messaging traffic, and social messaging and email adding to the momentum towards IP messaging.