The 1990s era SMS phone messaging is on the decline with the advent of Internet-based messaging (IM) such as Skype, Google Chat, AOL Instant Messenger, Brosix, Facebook Chat, Yahoo! Instant Messenger, and others. SMS stands for Short Message Service.
Free Internet-based messaging services outnumbered SMS messages for the first time in history. Research firm Informa recently published a report that instant messages are finally more popular than SMS messages, and are likely to more than double in quantity for 2013.
Nokia phones were among the first to feature SMS capability back in 1993. Phone carriers charged fees in order to send SMS messages and that was enough to encourage millions of web savvy users to turn to less expensive and/or free messaging services. Today, users can even communicate via game consoles.
“The world of conducting business is not what it was a decade ago. Even in the past few years, technology has evolved exponentially, and the degree of productivity these now common technologies enable was previously unheard of,” says Kelsey Jones of Brosix, a software company that enables users to simultaneously connect through multiple IM networks.
“Messaging technology on both computers and smartphones have revolutionized the world of technology, and the business and personal communication worlds will never be the same,” says Jones. The European company believes that the multiplicity of platforms is creating complexity for users whose friends may use only one or two channels such as Facebook Chat or Skype.
Thus, the marketplace could be seeing a further need for uniformity, simplicity, and standardization. Will the industry see consolidation over the next five years? For instance, will Google buy up some of the smaller IM networks and software providers? Time will tell. However, IM will clearly continue to fill the void created by tens of millions of cellphone users moving away from SMS.
To further position itself in the IM space, Brosix recently introduced a multi protocol IM feature that lets users connect with external instant messaging networks like AIM, Yahoo, ICQ, Google Talk, MSN, Facebook and Jabber. “This feature will be free for the Brosix personal users and it will be available to the enterprise users at additional charge. Network administrators will have full control which users can use this feature,” the company announced on May 21.
Aside from avoiding carrier charges from telecom companies, IM services enables users to trade photos, videos, and send group messages. According to Informa, smartphone users will send 41 billion internet-based instant messages this year. That figure is expected to increase to 50 billion by 2014. Phone users will only send 21 billion SMS messages in 2014.
Facebook, Google, and Skype are considered the big players in instant messaging, given the recent declines by AOL and Yahoo!. For the past year, Facebook and Google has also engaged in a technological arms race in terms of incorporating advanced IM features such as video chat.