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Mobile instant messaging usage expected to triple by 2016: study

Mobile instant messaging through applications and SMS is rapidly growing, and by 2016 it is expected to triple in use, per a study by Juniper Research.

The study shows that by not only has there been an increase in mobile instant messaging in general, people are also using multiple platforms to talk to each other. The report also notes how many PC-based services are now making the switch to mobile apps.

?The most surprising figure we found was that instant messaging isn?t a revenue-generating exercise,? said Daniel Ashdown, author of the study and a research analyst at Juniper Research, Hampshire, England.

?Desktop instant messaging is widespread, but it?s not as big of a money spinner as SMS is with carriers,? he said.

Multiple chats
The study found that although both SMS and desktop-based services are popular on mobile devices, people are using multiple platforms and services to instant message.

?In the study, we saw a growth in traditional instant messaging services like AOL?s AIM and Yahoo Messager that are now available on mobile devices,? Mr. Ashdown said.

?But we also saw that people were using SMS in conjunction with the instant messaging apps,? he said.

The analyst says this is proof that people want to use their mobile devices to interact with as many people as possible.

Mr. Ashdown also said it is clear that SMS is popular with mobile users because it is easy and already built into smartphones.

 However, he predicts that instant messaging services and SMS will continue to work interchangeably in the future.

?Mobile instant messaging services are not challenging SMS because the instant message apps are more  segmented networks than SMS,? Mr. Ashdown said.

?Users are interacting with both of them at the same time,? he said.

Specifically, Mr. Ashdown sees application-to-person messaging as the future of mobile, and uses text alerts as an example of how messaging will grow to include businesses and consumers in the next few years.

?From the study, I concluded that application-to-person apps will overtake person-to-person messaging services by 2016,? Mr. Ashdown said.

Different functions, same mission
According to Mr. Ashdown, desktop-based instant message services and SMS have very different functions for users, but they both are used for the same form of communication.

For example, Mr. Ashdown said that the layout of text messages on smartphones is starting to look similar to real-time instant messager chats with a scrolling screen of past conversations.

?SMS is less socially intruding because users don?t feel the need to respond the messages instantly,? Mr. Ashdown said.

?On the other hand, desktop-based apps have a sense of urgency and timeliness to them that makes users feel like they have to keep responding ? similar to an actual conversation,? he said.

?The main takeaway point from this study is that messaging is being used across multiple platforms on mobile devices and we expect it to continue to gain users through desktop-based service and SMS.?