Instant Messaging Apps Are Harming The Telecoms Industry

When instant messaging apps first emerged on the iOS and Android stores, they were mostly used by young people. They were a form of communication for internet-savvy teens who wanted to have conversations in a more private capacity than what social media allows, and without the cost of a mobile network’s SMS allowance. They now have manifested in the form of Instagram, Youtube, Facebook, etc. It goes without saying that the whole world is at these social media websites. I have to admit that bought my first youtube likes before my channel wasn’t recognised.

However, apps for instant messaging are now an incredibly popular form of communication for absolutely everyone. They are not just used by teenagers anymore; they are a commonplace tool for offices and academic institutions too. Over the course of a year, a staggering 20 billion instant messages are sent via applications such as Skype, Viber and WhatsApp – two billion more than text messages.

The telecoms industry is beginning to feel the impact of this enormous shift from old-fashioned forms of communication to these modern smartphone messaging apps. It is estimated that the industry is currently losing around £60 million every day just to Skype alone. It should hardly come as a surprise either; they are cheap and efficient ways of keeping in touch with friends, family and workmates over distances both short and long.

The telecoms industry is not going to be in a crisis any time soon because of the disruption caused by the aforementioned smartphone apps. Text messaging, for example, remains more lucrative despite being used less. Should IMs only continue to grow in popularity, however, the telecoms sector could easily find itself under threat in the next decade or so. So how does the industry avert the disaster that these instant messaging apps pose? As is often the case with sectors whose relatively analogue methods are now being harmed by the digital influx, it is better to embrace new technology than fight against it.

There are several things that British telecommunications businesses like BT and TalkTalk can do. One of the more radical suggestions is purchase these kinds of apps. Telecoms business could put the tools to even better practice by using both the data they have about their customers and the communications power they harness. Companies could also integrate them into their current services. It would manage the disruption meanwhile embracing their amazing potentials. Similar methods have been adopted by online giants Facebook (who purchased WhatsApp for $19 billion earlier this year) and Yahoo (who acquired the Blink team for their own smart communication products).

Not every telecommunications business has the clout of BT or TalkTalk though, nor do they have the finances to purchase an app that’s being used by millions of people worldwide. This is where telecommunications businesses need to get creative. One optios, for instance, is building your own instant messaging app to coincide with your business. This would allow telecos to use the functions of WhatsApp and Skype but streamline them to specific customer demands. Telecommunications companies could also make their services accessible for integration with instant messaging apps via application programming interfaces if they wish to, which is what AOL are currently doing in the United States.

Instant messaging apps are a popular method of communication that can no longer be ignored in the hope that they will go away. Businesses that have taken the ‘it is a passing trend’ approach to new technology have rarely fared well, and should the telecommunications industry continue to deny their existence they will only suffer in the future. Whether it is integration or acquisition, a new direction has to be taken before it is too late.