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Over-The-Top Messaging Apps Overtake SMS Messaging

Tim Maytom

messaging appsOver-the-top messaging apps like WhatsApp are now used more regularly than SMS to send messages in the UK, a report from GlobalWebIndex shows.

The Mobile Messenger Trends report revealed that across the 32 markets studied, 600m adults aged 16-64 were using over-the-top messaging apps on their mobiles during Q2 2014, a rise of 30 per cent since Q4 2012.

SMS remains strong, with 75 per cent of mobile users having sent an SMS in the last month, but adoption has virtually plateaued since the start of 2013, despite the size of the global smartphone population continuing to rise each quarter.

Mobile chat apps were described as a primary form of communication by just over 60 per cent of users, with over half of respondents confirming that they have overtaken SMS as the way they typically send messages. The lead over MMS is even larger, with only 16 per cent preferring to send photos or videos via MMS rather than a chat app or photo sharing service.

Despite these figures, more than 50 per cent of WhatsApp users think that SMS will still be an important form of communication for them in a year's time, but figures increasingly show that over-the-top messaging users are sending SMS messages on a less frequent basis and to fewer people than before.

Studying messaging apps closer, the report shows that outside of China, WhatsApp has now overtaken Facebook's Messenger app to become the top global over-the-top messaging app, being used by nearly 40 per cent of the mobile internet audience each month. However, Facebook's move to remove messaging functionality from phones across the globe could see it retake dominance.