SMS is here to stay

Many commentators have noted the rise of messaging applications such as Facebook messenger, Google hangouts, WhatsApp and the granddaddy of them all, Skype – and predicted the demise of SMS.  This graph, from Irish regulator COMREG’s Q3 2014 market report, shows it clearly.  We await the Q4 report to see whether Q3 is a blip or the decline of SMS is starting to bottom out.

However, most of us still use SMS regularly – and SMS is here to stay.

Why is this?  Well, SMS offers some unique advantages:

  • SMS is ubiquitous. If your friend has a mobile number, then you know they can receive an SMS.  That’s not true of any other messaging application.
  • Whereas the OTT messaging apps all require mobile data coverage, SMS doesn’t.  There are plenty remote places with coverage but no mobile data.
  • SMS works on the poorest mobile signal.  In fact, an SMS will often get through where a voice call won’t.  In  the UK, the emergency services have set up a 999 / 112 SMS service.
  • SMS is the communication method of choice for most companies offering 2-factor authentication.  The Next Web has a useful article on why SMS is widely used for A2P (Application-to-person) messaging.

These are among the reasons why SMS has a bright future. Sure, usage will continue to decline for a while as messaging apps gain penetration – but SMS is here to stay.