According to results from a study released today, the majority of mobile operators believe that by 2015, social networking will have passed both voice and SMS as the most popular way to communicate over mobile. The survey was commissioned Airwide Solutions, and got responses from 31 global mobile operators.
What’s the story?
Airway Solutions is a mobile messaging service provider for networks – it does all sorts of work, from text gateways to security. The reason behind it’s survey was that the growth of smartphones and mobile internet services are changing the way people use their mobile phones. And it’s important to see where the operators believe that change will lead them – and it appears they believe it will lead them to social networking.
What are the key results?
Operators were asked what they thought the top 5 forms of mobile communication would be in 2015:
- 94% said social networking will be the most popular
- 87% believe voice will follow in 2nd place, and 81% believe SMS will be in 3rd place
- 74% said that network quality will be critical – by which they mean the capability to handle data without slowing to a crawl.
Interestingly, Airwide says that the operators believe that voice and text won’t be supplanted by mobile internet services – instead, they will be enhanced, as people use the traditional channels to interact with the more modern ones.
As a follow up to that claim, Airwide asked the operators what they thought would be the main drivers behind innovation in messaging would be. 65% said entertainment apps and services would drive messaging growth, 48% said healthcare and 36% claimed education and finance (especially for emerging markets).
What we think?
I think this shows a pretty realistic view of things in the years to come – in particular, as teenage users mature. Lacking a reliable income, teenagers will often use whatever channel is cheapest on their mobile. And the cheapest channel is IM. If all you’re using your data for is IM, then your costs will be practically zero. And it’s not just teenagers. I use Nimbuzz to stay in contact with people through various social networks. The number of people willing and able to use non-SMS based text communications on their mobile is only going to get larger and larger as the years pass.