IM Apps Faring Better than SMS?

Posted on March 23, 2012 by Nikhil P Naik

Recently, Telecom operators reported that the loss in revenue to social messaging applications has been estimated to somewhere around $13.9 billion. This has brought in a thought in many people’s mind that whether SMS is dying. Although its a bit too early to write off SMS, but it is a well known fact that IM apps like Ebuddy, Nimbuzz, WhatsApp and others are getting popular day by day due to their biggest advantage of providing messaging and calling friends who are using the same app free of cost. Even if the other person is not using the app, the cost is minimal. Even Fring dropped call rates about a week back.


Nimbuzz helps users save on data charges as well. Vikas Saxena, CEO, Nimbuzz India says:

“It allows users to appear online and available to their contacts even when the Nimbuzz app is closed. When contacts want to reach them, Nimbuzz Ping delivers free SMS prompting users to log in to Nimbuzz and communicate.”

Off course, users also have the advantage of playing multiplayer games, competing with others, check for live scores and various other features. Facility of video chat is also there. IM apps are roaring!

  • WhatsApp users sent more than 2 billion messages daily, an increase in over 100% compared to 1 billion messages sent in the month of October last year.
  • Pinger users have sent 2 billion messages in January, up from 1.7 billion in December.
  • About 150,000 new users register daily on Nimbuzz, which has over 15 million users from India alone.

Convergence (Getting everything at one spot) can be sited as one of the reasons for IMs gaining more and more popularity. You just need to be online in one account and chat with your Google Talk, Facebook,Yahoo, Hotmail buddies without opening all accounts. You can still chat with all of them via one app like Ebuddy, even if they are not on Ebuddy. IM apps are a one-stop shop destination.

But they have their demerits. Some of which are put up as follows:

  • As many of the IM apps are heavily modded, they could slow down the device if your mobile is low on space and memory.
  • Since they need GPRS or WiFi, IM apps are only as good as the connectivity, which in turn depends on the device and network provider.
  • Keeping the app running for long will result in draining of the battery in quick time.

Due to IM apps gaining more attention, Telecom operators in France, Italy, Germany and South Korea are testing a messaging service called the Joyn. This will come embedded on all phones using which users can chat, share files and have other benefits. But at present Joyn is a long way off. SMSes will be around. But as data plans become cheaper and smartphones becomes more cheaper and affordable, it will be interesting to see how things would change.

Credits to B Pradeep Nair

About Nikhil P Naik

Nikhil Naik has a Master's Degree in Information Systems, and is currently working as a Software Engineer at Microsoft. He also loves playing cricket, listening to music, and traveling. Twitter Handle - @buzz_nikhil.

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