Is Texting Dying In The Age Of Instant Messaging Apps?

After two decades of unrivaled dominion over the entire messaging realm, texting has finally met a challenger that might just topple it from its throne: instant messaging apps. A study by Deloite found that the number of text messages sent in 2013 had taken a dramatic fall from 152 billion to 145 billion. Meanwhile, the number of instant messages sent in 2013 rose from 52 billion to a whopping 160 billion.

So, is texting taking its final gasps of breath?

The Rise Of The Instant Messaging Apps

Instant messaging online isn’t a new thing by any means. Anyone born in the early ’90s will be able to tell you about the hours they spent chatting to friends on MSN’s service. But the likes of MSN required you to sit at your computer screen or perch over your laptop in order to talk to people. In those days, that was the only way to receive an internet connection. If you wanted to send someone a message while you were out shopping or at work, for example, you would have to resort back to texting.

However, instant messaging now comes in the form of apps for mobile phone and tablet — both of which have the ability to connect you to the internet on the go. No longer do you have to be at a PC to instant message. No longer are instant messaging and texting separate entities. Apps have placed them on a completely level playing field.

Why Has There Been A Decline In Texting?

Many have argued that the level playing field is the reason why texting is in decline. For instance, operating phones has become so expensive with contracts, data packages and internet connection that people are looking to cut corners where they can. Why spend money on text messages when you send an instant message from a cheap (sometimes even free) app?

But, hold on, don’t most people now include text messaging in their monthly contracts with their network providers like, say, EE or o2? The real reason why instant messaging has become so popular might be something different altogether: it offers something new.

Time To Deliver Something New

Text messaging has held dominion over the messaging realm for so long it has never felt the need to change. Why fix something that’s not broke? As a result, it has lost the sense of fun. What was once a cool new way to keep in touch with your friends has now become old hat. When colourful new alternatives arrived on the scene that promised a wealth of new concepts — Snapchat with its ephemeral messages; WhatsApp and Kik with their sleek designs — users have understandably gravitated elsewhere.

So is texting taking its final gasps of breath? Well, no. At least, it doesn’t have to. Smartphones and their network providers have to realise that for the first time ever there is competition. They have to take this bad news not as a stab to the gut but a wake up call: deliver something fresh in order to offset this decline, to keep hold of the messaging crown.