SMS was the original “killer app” for mobile. In terms of the volumes involved and the revenues generated, it is arguably one that has never been bettered. According to the ITU, there were a staggering 6.1 trillion SMS sent globally last year, a figure that has tripled since 2007. Assuming an average cost of US$0.07 per message, the ITU reckons that SMS traffic generated about US$14,000 every second for operators in 2010. Not bad for a service that was originally designed simply to push network notifications to SIM cards.
But is the SMS cash cow about to be put out to pasture? That appears to be the conclusion to draw from recent data from mature mobile markets, which shows that SMS volumes have started to decline as users switch to third-party messaging services such as Whatsapp, BlackBerry Messenger and Skype.