India plans to adopt 5G technology to take advantage of IoT. Pic: Pixabay

Critics dismissed the potential of SMS too soon, says Telefónica’s James Lasbrey

THE predicted death of the SMS (short message service) was too premature, says Telefónica’s Global Head of Messaging, James Lasbrey, as the communications medium still has potential to deliver industry growth.

In an article for the Mobile Ecosystem Forum, Lasbrey said that the overwhelming success of messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, and LINE have stoked a widely-held belief that “SMS and texting is not only in decline but also out of favor”.

Not so, according to a study by Telefónica – a Spanish multinational broadband and telecommunications provider – which found that more than 8.3 trillion SMSs were sent globally in 2015 (that’s 23 billion messages a day, and almost 16 million messages per minute).

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The report, titled ‘The Telefónica Text Economy Report: An investigation into the enduring success and economy drivers of the SMS market in 2015’, highlights just how effective SMS still is despite “shinier players” in the messaging industry.

Lasbrey said: “Indeed SMS is one of the foundation tools of the trade and while messaging apps are chewing into text messaging and displacing text messaging volumes – they have the SMS legacy propelling them along without which they simply wouldn’t exist in the way we have come to know.”

According to the report, 44 percent of consumers surveyed said they would rather receive marketing materials via text than any other channel. SMS has also generated 50,000 times more revenue per megabyte than data average revenue per user.

58 percent of the world’s “messaging population” lives in Asia Pacific, and according to new market research published by Infoholic Research, Asia Pacific’s growing mobile subscriber and internet user base is expected to support market growth for A2P (application to person) SMS between 2016 to 2022.

Pic: Unsplash

Lasbrey said: “Customers are clearly placing SMS at the top of the heap, demonstrating that the ‘old school’ option is preferred when there is a message you absolutely have to either send or receive.”

He added that Telefónica expects to see A2P being used by more organizations, including SMEs and government bodies, to “capitalize on its potential to improve the efficiency of [an] existing service”.

The report concludes that while there is significant growth in other messaging channels (WhatsApp has 900 million active users, while Facebook Messenger has a 30 percent active usership among U.S. mobile device users), SMS continues to be a primary channel of communication.

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With SMS’s ability to reach 99.99 percent of all handsets globally – both smartphone and non-smartphone – it has proven itself to be the most effective way to reach users directly.

“Today, SMS may be viewed as antiquated technology – but the reality is that SMS plays a key role in connecting most modern technologies,” says the report. “From its high user engagement rate to its disruption in the A2P sector, we won’t be seeing SMS disappear anytime soon.”