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Instant Messaging to Account for 75% of Mobile Messaging Traffic by 2018, But Only Generate 2% of Revenues

Impetus lies with ‘free’ messaging apps to monetise substantial user bases…

A new report from Juniper Research highlights the growing disparity between traffic volumes and revenues in the mobile messaging market. It states that despite accounting for 75% of the traffic – or 63 trillion messages – by 2018, IM (Instant Messaging) apps will only generate 2% of the mobile messaging market’s revenue, at just over 3 billion USD.

The Impact of IM

The report – Mobile Messaging Markets: IM, Social, SMS, MMS, Email, RCS/RCS-e 2014-2018 – stated that the increasingly high IM traffic volumes are the result of a number of factors, but chief among them is the fact that usage of IM apps is inherently different to usage of SMS; users typically send up to 10 ‘chats’ to convey a message which could be contained in 1 SMS.

In addition to this, stickers, emoticons, images and group conversations all add significantly to IM traffic, as well as the fact that handset users – the younger demographic in particular – typically install multiple IM apps. Report author Sian Rowlands added ‘adoption of IM apps has rapidly accelerated over the past 18 months, something which has led Juniper to revise upwards our forecast for the volume of IM traffic.’

Routes to Profit

Nevertheless IM apps are continuing to encounter difficulties in generating revenues, given the infancy of the market. The hundreds of IM apps available are taking different approaches, some utilising in-app purchases and games, others with advertising or subscriptions. Indeed, some apps – such as Facebook Messenger – are loss leaders, and only serve to increase engagement with a companies’ separate revenue generating app.

Other key findings from the report include:

• Mobile operators are continuing to work on the RCS (Rich Communications Suite) initiative, which has potential to see traction after 2018, although progressing at a slow pace.
• The Far East & China will generate the most traffic across all mobile messaging formats, throughout the forecast period.

The ‘Mobile Messaging ~ War of the Words’ whitepaper is available to download from the Juniper website together with further details of the full report.

Juniper Research provides research and analytical services to the global hi-tech communications sector, providing consultancy, analyst reports and industry commentary.

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