Mobile operators are going to be in for a heap of hurt, blues, pain and agony if a report released today by leading telecom research and analysis shop OVUM is on target regarding SMS revenues shifting to social messaging services.
Ovum defines social messaging as messaging that occurs through platforms other than SMS, MMS, or email, and which is either tied to a social network or has a social component attached. Social messaging players include mobile apps, mobile social networks, and even some mobile instant messaging platforms.
Is SMS dying? Hardly. What we're seeing is evolution in the messaging arena and the shift of dollars from SMS revenue into data plans, because all the traffic that was on SMS networks will move to the newer, richer capable LTE/4G networks.
Ovum, whom I rank in the elite group of the large Tier One analysts firms including Gartner, Forrester and IDC vs. boutiques like Altimiter Group, iGR and Disruptive Analysis is pointing to a takeaway of some $54 billion dollars by 2016 to go to apps including What's App, Google Voice, GroupMe (now owned by Skype) TextPlus and others which all fall into the OTT (over the top) category. This lost revenue also has to include RIM's BBM service that has been a longtime favorite of mine, as well as Apple's recently fully launched iMessage which brings SMS like IM features to laptops, desktops and all iOS devices including the iPhone, iPad and iPod's.
This is important, as it shows the shift in desire for more innovative services that the apps offer. In the case of Apple, the major benefit is all devices work with iMessage. With GoogleVoice, your message also go everywhere and ride on both the data and SMS networks. With What'sApp you have MMS like features inside the SMS like app. GroupMe allows you to create groups ala a mailing list. But there's more. The biggest feature some of these services offer is the ability to archive, store and forward SMS like messages, providing users with more history. The other benefit is some allow you to send message to Twitter as well as provide API's to hook into within other apps.