Mobile instant messaging set to overtake texting

Mobile instant messaging is set to cannibalise SMS texting and eventually email from PC, according to a survey from TNS Technology.

The TNS Global Telecoms Insight study, which interviewed 17,000 people across 30 countries, found that once mobile users adopt mobile instant messaging (MIM), it quickly overtakes other messaging tools with potentially dramatic consequences for service and network providers' revenues.

Among those who use MIM, it is the most used feature on their phone: 61% use it daily compared to only 55% who use SMS daily and only 12% who use email on their mobile.

The survey also found that 11 out of every 100 messages sent by mobile devices or fixed PCs globally are instant messages.

Among MIM users, 36 out of every 100 messages sent is an instant message from their mobile, making this the most dominant form for these users.

The number of messages sent via SMS falls dramatically among MIM users from 38 to only 23 messages per 100.

MIM users also use fixed email less, with 21 out of every 100 messages sent this way, compared to 31 messages among all consumers.

Currently 8% of all mobile users globally use MIM, with the highest number of users in Hong Kong at 23%. Use of MIM in China is also very high at 16%, suggesting a massive opportunity among the country's 500m mobile subscribers.

Matthew Froggart, managing director of global technology for TNS, said: "Once a mobile phone user has access to the internet from their handset, the cost of instant messaging is next to nothing, as the only cost is a very small data transfer fee.

"With consumers being accustomed to instant messaging from their PC from companies like Yahoo and MSN, and more mobile operators offering unlimited use of web browsers, the take-up of MIM is going to increase significantly -- leaving SMS and fixed email from PC behind."

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