Sun, Dec 30, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Texting loses popularity, consumers opt for apps

Staff writer, with CNA

The volume of text messages sent in Taiwan on New Year’s Eve might continue to decline this year due to consumers’ growing interest in Internet-based messaging apps, according to local telecoms 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 last year, and the number is forecast to fall more sharply this year.

The increasing popularity of messaging service apps, such as the US’ WhatsApp and South Korea’s Line, have pushed the number lower, said Jeff Ku (谷元宏), 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.

Messaging apps, such as the M+ Messenger, allow people to use a smartphone’s Internet connection to send messages instantly, similar to text messaging.

The Taiwan Mobile’s M+ Messenger was launched in August and hit the 1 million download mark within three weeks, ranking as the top free app in Apple’s App Store and Google’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 gaining popularity,” Ku said.

Chunghwa Telecom Co, the nation’s largest telecoms operator, said that the volume of text messages sent 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 nation’s third-largest telecoms operator, said it was also expecting its text message volume to remain unchanged from last year.

Research firm Ovum has forecast that worldwide telecoms 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.

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