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Mobile trends: Text messages fall in 2013 as chat apps rise

The number of text messages being sent in the UK has fallen for the first time ever as more people turn to Whatsapp and iMessage, according to new research looking into mobile trends.

According to figures published by Deloitte in a telecom prediction survey, the number of texts sent last year fell 7bn to 145bn, while the number of instant messages sent through apps rose to 160bn.

Texting is on the decline due to an increase in the use of branded instant messaging apps on smartphones.

The number of SMS (standard messaging service) messages sent last year fell for the first time since its creation in 1992.

Speaking to the Guardian, head of telecoms research at Deloitte, Paul Lee, said: “This is the first decline in texting in the UK since texting was invented. We have reached a tipping point. But the usage of mobile phones to send messages is stronger than ever. This year, trillions of instant messages will be sent in place of a text message.”

The report predicts that in 2014 the number of texts sent will fall even further to only 140bn, while the number of instant messages will increase dramatically to around 300bn.

It is thought that younger users are turning away from traditional texting in favour of instant messaging services that offer lower prices and more customisation.

In addition, the cheapness and availability of smartphone technology is contributing towards the rise of IM, with cheaper handsets meaning more people who wouldn't usually buy smartphones, like senior citizens, are becoming regular users.

The price of the technology also means that soon mobile phone companies will stop making traditional handsets, and people will have no choice but to convert to smartphones.

In the UK the percentage of people over 55 with a smartphone was 29 per cent in 2012, and is set to rise to around 47 per cent in 2014.

However, only 13 per cent of older smartphone owners used IM, preferring to use their smartphones to make calls and send texts.

Despite these predictions SMS is still worth around £60bn, because of its functionality; Texts still work in any country, on any network, on any handset.

Traditional SMS still stands to make more money in 2014 than IM, and the report predicts that this trend will continue until 2018.

BlackBerry can claim to have started the IM trend when its BBM service started in 2006, but the IM trend took off when the iPhone was released in 2007.

This release brought with it services like iMessage, Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp, released in 2009, with these services overtaking traditional texts in the UK last year.

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