Everyone is talking about smartphones, applications, mobile internet, Blackberry, instant messaging. There does not seem to be much talk about how big the traditional text messaging service…

Instant Messaging – The SMS killer?

Everyone is talking about smartphones, applications, mobile internet, Blackberry, instant messaging. There does not seem to be much talk about how big the traditional text messaging service is.


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I am going to ask a few questions that may just make us think and at least take another look at mobile messaging in general.


  • If you are in an emergency and you need to send an urgent message for help, would you send SMS (short message service) or IM (instant message; e.g. Yahoo messenger, BB messenger etc)?
  • When you switch on your phone, do you have to log in or log on before you can receive SMS? (but for IM, you may have to log in sometimes, unless it is in automatic)
  • Comparing the ratio of people who have phones that can do SMS only and those who have phones that can do IM, which is has the greater potential?

Do you remember back in the 1990s when the computer gained popularity, and we were told that the world was moving on to a paperless environment? How far has that happened?

What is your take? Will IM kill SMS (now that smart phones are gaining popularity and almost everyone has a phone that can do data)?

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This Post Has 19 Comments

  1. To answer your question, I will send an SMS instead of an IM in an emergency. People are not always logged on their Instant Messengers. IM cannot kill SMS, nor SMS can kill IM. You can use both in different scenarios, but to use an IM in an emergency would not be practical.

  2. To comment further.

    IM costs like NOTHING.

    UNLESS there is a reason preventing its use @ any point in time, ANYBODY should prefer this to SMS.

    I see just two problems that work against dumping SMS altogether:

    Cheap partner connectivity

    Getting all phone manufacturers to have social networking clients like twitter, facebook built INTO their device’s.

    Now, a follow-up question that pops into my mind is: would VOIPs eventually kill conventional calls? If internet access becomes dirt-cheap, the telephony companies may just have a REAL challenge on their hands….

  3. IM is in no way killing SMS; a basic phone does SMS and gets delivered in real time. Not everybody is as tech savvy to rely on IM.
    Yh! VOIP. Imagine making a 729Kb 6minute call to a friend in the UK using skype… I call it cheeeap.

  4. turboglendz,

    Thanks for your comment. Both IM and SMS now integrate very good. but there are those we still hav in our social circle that don’t understand IM, they’ve just Managed to learn SMS, eg: my dad. Those ones may never learn IM,but still belong to our social sphere and their opinions and feelings still count. I think SMS would outshine IM always.


    Nimbuzz, skype and some others already give us VOIP, not so?


    “Not everybody is as tech savvy to rely on IM.”
    I agree more with you. But I will not under rate technology o! whatever they want to pull off they will pull it off.

  5. Let’s put it this way, I signed up with the mtn funlink and was always through with the 200 sms in less than two weeks till I discovered whatsapp(http://www.peterbanigo.com/?p=113). You wouldn’t believe I had 159 sms left when my last package expired.
    I believe with time, sms’d have to get very free/cheap to compete with IM.

  6. ‘Nimbuzz, skype and some others already give us VOIP, not so?’

    Sure, they do.

    I was just wondering what level of impact VOIP calling is having NOW on conventional calling methods, and how much impact it would have when/if internet connectivity costs become a non issue.

    With unlimited data and a fast internet connexion, would VOIP – one day- totally replace conventional calling?
    Mythinking is thai- with data getting cheaper, and transmission speed faster, sms and conventional calling may just become extinct eventually.
    Video streaming may replace television/cable tv and internet radio – the only way2go.

    But then- that would be straying off the topic…

  7. Eyebeekay,

    Intresting poins and preddiction. May be when cars starts running on water and generators ceases becoming a source of electricyu (pun intended) then everyone would be using VOIP. And hopefully internet connection globaly would be as fast as that of Japan.

    But I hear there I’d DataCrunch is US (Americe), if VOIP takes place DATA needs would increase and what…? Have you forgotten, ‘If it is not broken, don’t fix it.’

    Thanks for the tip off on whatsApp, I initially heard about in on @twitter. Was told it would help but blackBerry users and non Blackberry users PING each other. I might as well try it too, downloading…»»»
    Thanks for checking in, you guys (commenters) rock.

  8. My opinion:

    In its current form, instant messaging does not stand a chance of coming close to SMS in volume, much less killing it.

    The seamless nature of SMS makes it a breeze to use by anyone with a GSM phone. No setup. No configuration. Just pop in your SIM and go.

    With IM, there is so much fragmentation, there is a need to setup and at times initiate a login, and then you need to have at least an extra ID of each contact separate from their mobile number.

    Unless IM evolves and those issues are taken care of, SMS will remain by large the number one VAS on GSM networks.

  9. This is why I love Mobilitynigeria so much!

    A veritable source of information. Just hearing of WhatsAop!

    Thank you Peter!

  10. Emergency situations and not everyday occurances they rare occassions I really wonder how many people will be punching their keys during an emergency when they can easily put a call throught and get and urgent result.

    That being said, we need to come to terms with the fact that IM’s have come to stay. Look around you everywhere you go almost everybody is punching away, chatting and jisting with anybody anywhere in the world live and direct not sms where you are not even sure if it was received or not.

    IM is here to stay infact, I wonder what next?

  11. The truth is whether we like it or not, Instant messaging cannot kill text messages on account of a few obvious reasons. First of all there is no one Instant messenger that is as ubiquitous as GSM or CDMA phones! You can send a text to anybody anywhere in the world irrespective of the person’s network, type of phone or country. The same cannot apply to IM. How many people use BBM to justify sending a message via that route in emergency? ANd how many people use PINgchat or Skype or yahoo Messenger to justify that sending too? Emergency? plain old text is better!

    On the other hand, IM is Cheaper or makes use of minor kilobytes from your existing Data plan; Blackberry or otherwise. And as well you can send longer messages with little or negligible additional cost. you could also send pictures, videos and voice with IM. Something you couldn’t do with SMS. Except MMS… But well, that is a different story!

  12. SMS is wonderful and arguably cheap. And I really like the fact that SMS sent abroad is charged like sms sent to other networks

    If i use other phones i will say SMS.

    But if we both use Blackberry, I will prefer to use the Blackberry messenger because it will not only tell me when the message is delivered it will also tell me when the person reads it.

    SMS will be around for a very long time but it will become “outdated and die” when we all live online 24/7.

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