Gears of Tech

Technology. Pure and simple.

Text Messaging Down For First Time in United States


While it may seem like text messaging is all the rage these days, a new report suggests that the growing number of smartphone owners are finding different ways to communicate.

The study conducted by Chetan Sharma points out that U.S. cell phone customers sent an average of 675 messages per month. That alludes to the third quarter, where as the previous quarter averaged out to about 700 messages per user per month.

So, what exact does this mean? One would think that with the growing amount of customers, most notably those who now live their daily lives carrying around a fancy iPhone or Android device, that texting would increase to astounding heights. Well, that is true — sort of.

In essence, communication through the written (or typed) word is seemingly the go-to form of communication between many people. (It’s just that much easier to text a friend the address of a restaurant you are supposed to meet at rather than call him and make him write it down, you know?) The numbers in the report showing a decrease in text messages is due mainly to one large aspect: applications that save customers money by not texting.

Let me explain. Apps with SMS capabilities are hurting cell phone carriers because many users are ditching texts for apps that allow them to do the same things, all without the extra costs associated with text messages. These apps include Kik, WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook Messenger, Google Voice, etc. They have all chat capabilities that allow users to ditch the formal idea of texting in exchange for different services that make the process easier in some cases. A Google+ chat, for example, is just so much easier because of the back and forth conversational aspect.

The data plans are being taken advantage of by consumers (and rightfully so in this case) because these apps are helping people communicate without the extra costs of an already pricey phone contract. Free services like Apple’s iMessage have contributed to users ditching cell-based texting plans and using their data plans to communicate, and many of these cases let customers save money because they may already have a large data-per-month plan — some of which may be unlimited data plans altogether. It’s like ditching one costly service for another consumer-friendly (see: cheaper) service.

The question is whether these cell phone companies will continue to get burned by these apps, including a few which are first-party affiliated like iMessenger. Texting is still extremely popular, but it’s just transformed into a new medium. Consumers are still coming out on the longer end of the stick whenever they have more options to explore.