Email may be entrenched, but so it seemed–until recently–was SMS. I mean it came with cell-phones themselves. But cell phones evolved into smart phones and suddenly SMS looked like black and white TV, like AM Radio, like dial phones, or heck even like landline phones. They became something of a previous error. Something people over 60 who are unashamedly proud of their own lack of technology competence take out of their pockets after a drink or two to show you exactly how lost they are in the current world.
Those people who take out the flip phones don’t do SMS. Well, not many of them. They do go home and sit at a computer to do email or to “push the Skype button to talk to their grandkids” as one explained to me.
The Economist writes this week in “Mobile services: The message is the medium: Messaging services are rapidly growing beyond online chat” about the trajectory of online messaging and specifically how SMS (see chart) is declining in the face of more robust and smartphone friendly services, among those services mentioned are WhatsApp, WeChat, Slack, Quip, HipChat, Line, Spark (Cisco), Verse (IBM), KakaoTalk, Viber, Snapchat, FireChat, Telegram, Secret, Whisper and Yik Yak.
But the focus of the story is really on Facebook Messenger and it’s rebirth or perhaps more properly it’s morphing into a platform. What a platform is is still somewhat in question. Like Cloud or Natural, it seems to be a flexible term rather than a well defined term of art. One thing a platform seems to have is support for mobile payments and integration of other services.
Right now the field is crowded but bets are on Messenger and on Slack if the Economist is to be believed.
WhatsApp handled more than seven trillion messages last year, about 1,000 per person on the planet. In Britain users spent as much time on WhatsApp as on Facebook’s social-networking app, according to Forrester, another research firm. In China subscribers to WeChat are estimated to use the app for about 1,100 minutes a month on average.