Alexa

Carriers see texting cooling off on New Year's Eve

Carriers see texting cooling off on New Year's Eve

Taipei, Dec. 29 (CNA) The volume of text messages sent in Taiwan on New Year's Eve may continue to decline this year due to consumers' growing interest in Internet-based messaging apps, according to local telecom operators. Taiwan Mobile Co., the country's second-largest mobile provider, said the number of texts sent by its customers fell by 10 percent on New Year's Eve in 2011, and the number is forecast to fall more sharply this year. The increasing popularity of messaging service apps, such as WhatsApp of the United States and Line of South Korea, have pushed the number lower, said Jeff Ku, deputy chief operating officer of Taiwan Mobile's consumer business group. "In recent years, smartphone users have been gradually shifting from text messaging to Internet-based messaging apps," Ku said recently at a news conference to launch a new version of Taiwan Mobile's messaging app "M+ Messenger." Messaging apps, such as the M+ Messenger, allow people to use the phone's Internet connection to send messages instantly, similar to text messaging. The M+ Messenger was launched in August and hit the 1 million download mark within three weeks, ranking as the top free app in Apple Inc.'s App Store and Google Inc.'s Google Play, the carrier said. The messaging service now has 2 million users and the number is expected to exceed 4 million before the Lunar New Year in February, it said. "Whether you like it or not, the trend (of messaging apps) is coming," Ku said. Chunghwa Telecom Co., Taiwan's largest telecom operator, told CNA that its text volume on New Year's Eve is projected to remain flat this year, compared with a 3 percent drop last year. Far EasTone Telecommunications Co., the third-largest telecom operator in Taiwan, said it was also expecting its text message volume to remain unchanged from a year earlier. Research firm Ovum has forecast that worldwide telecom operators will lose US$54 billion in short message system (SMS) revenues by 2016 due to the increasing popularity of social messaging services on smartphones. That had already lost an estimated US$23 billion to social messaging by the end of 2012, Ovum said in a recent report. "Social messaging is becoming more pervasive, and operators are coming under increased pressure to drive revenues from the messaging component of their communications businesses," said Neha Dharia, consumer telecoms analyst at Ovum. "Operators need to understand the impact of social messaging apps on consumer behavior, both in terms of changing communication patterns and the impact on SMS revenues, and offer services to suit," she said. (By Jeffrey Wu)