Smartphones messaging apps: Biggest threat to SMS usage?


Success of Smartphones beckons the downfall of Short Messaging Services or SMS. Once upon a time SMSes were the heart of youth in India and over the world at large. There were many packages and messaging schemes that were used to entice the young and tech savvy.

I have seen myself people changing service provider on the basis of whichever provides better messaging pack. SMSes was one of the important revenue channels for Telecom Operators. Even now, we can find good messaging packs available with all service providers and it was a very cozy period for the service providers.

But Smartphones seem to be changing all that…

Smartphones became cheaper and a new platform emerged. This platform had all the facilities of a messaging service like instant delivery, quick response time and of course conversational in nature. They though added something extra. That extra was multimedia. How many of us might have used MMS? 1 in a thousand would be wildly exaggerated I must say.

To me, MMS got the same treatment that was faced by a pager. It was a great thing, could have achieved even greater targets but was substituted by an adversary far superior and had to face inevitable doom. These services on smartphones introduced the concept of null direct price (Free) for any message be it text, audio or video.

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What are these services, you must have guessed by now. Many of you must be using them as well. Whatsapp, Kik, WeChat, Kakaotalk etc. are the apps that provide such services.

Blackberry has this service as well, the BBM (Blackberry messenger) as it is affectionately called but it costs a person monthly charges.

These services though do not cost anything except for the price of bandwidth that is consumed. This is the only catch but as most smartphones lose a lot of their smartness without a decent net connection this does not become much of a hindrance or problem.

Compare this to a MMS that costs Rs. 5 per MMS and you get an idea that it is a cheap deal overall in any case by a very far margin.

Now, I must add that these services are not an innovation. Google talk, facebook messenger and pretty much all online services work this way and can be used for all the same purposes. Still, we find Whatsapp getting insanely successful because of one very important feature. The key or identification in these services is not a mail id or unique user name. It is a person’s phone number…

Everyone on this person’s contact list using this service becomes an instant contact; absolutely no work on the part of the user. This ease of use brings it to the forefront. Now, we find that mobile networks are in a fix where they are getting good money from 2G and 3G services but are losing out on important traditional revenue channel called SMS. It’s a choice that has been made for them and they have to accept it.

Also, it teaches an important lesson to developers, simplicity is always appreciated and ease of use and price will beat all other odds.

So, do you use a smartphone and find such an app indispensible? Or are you still using a feature phone with a great messaging pack?

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