SMS to remain king of messaging?

Last week Mary Meeker released her annual Internet Trends report which abounds with interesting high level observations and projections. However the data-point that struck me was that the average “mobile phone user reaches for his/her phone ~100 -150 times/day” … and that the most common reason for these reaches is messaging (voice calls ranked second).

CaptureNow I presumed that SMS messages would constitute a sizeable portion of this messaging space (given older folk like me rely on this 20 year old technology for to-do list and appointment reminders etc). Also at Opengear solutions use SMS pervasively for remote site alerting …. and for communicating with and controlling remote infrastructures. I had also assumed this messaging space would be dominated by Internet chat apps – given the hype over recent years around messaging apps like Apple’s iMessage, Facebook/Skype Chat and Google Voice/Talk.

However on digging I find that SMS still prevails, and it looks likely to retains its crown for some time:

  • Mobile apps are popular with smartphone users -but not as popular as SMS, recent (Feb 2013) Nielsen Mobile Consumer Report survey of smartphone users in ten countries affirms.
  •  Researcher Informa estimates 18 billion SMS texts are sent each day. Similarly Data Metrics estimated that in 2Q  12 global SMS traffic actually increased 8.3%, to 2.2 trillion messages, up from 2.1 trillion messages in 2Q 11. And these SMS numbers will continue to grow over coming years (projected to grow to 21 billion messages a day in 2014.)

So SMS texting has become the leading personal messaging service in the world which is used by all demographics and age groups. And while it has many shortcomings (like light weight security/ authentication, limited tracking) SMS also has some unmatched advantages:

  • SMS is simple.  It is easy for users to operate and  the 160 character limit,  keeps messages short and simple
  • SMS is pervasively available.Today’s SMS service reaches more than 5 billion people across the globe (and there’s currently only 2.4 billion people connected to the Internet)
  • SMS technology is inexpensively packaged with most mobile monthly plans. It is a key revenue source for the carriers, who are .all busily crafting ways to extend the life-cycle


Now there are many projections that SMS will diminish in significance and be displaced by IP chat apps (e,g. 2013 Predictions: Top-10 telecom trends for 2013 – What to watch in the coming year).

However SMS isn’t going away any time soon. And it presents a simple pervasive and very powerful tool, that you can use today to monitor and manage the remote sites in your care.

Posted in Cellular, Recent