In 2013, mobile messaging apps took the social world by storm. In fact, according to Flurry Analytics, app usage is up 115 percent, indicating a trend that more people are choosing to conduct more of their computing using a tablet or smartphone. But with their massive increase in use, it’s messaging apps that are ruling the roost.
Indeed, messaging apps like Kik, Snapchat, WhatsApp and WeChat grew 203 percent in 2013. There are several causes for the increase, chief among those is privacy. Broadcasting every part of your life through social media has become less desirable when compared to the more direct, less visible messaging app.
Younger users are investing more time and energy into messaging apps. Among cell phone users surveyed, 26 percent of those between the ages 18 to 29 said they used Snapchat. This usage drops off after 30, with only 10 percent of users reporting use of Snapchat. Younger users favor more private communication, so they’re avoiding the giants like Facebook — a fact Facebook has admitted.
In the UK, this upward trend in messaging apps correlates to a downward trend in SMS text messaging. According to a spokesperson for Deloitte, “We have reached a tipping point. But the usage of mobile phones to send messages is stronger than ever. This year, trillions of instant messages will be sent in place of text messages.”
That isn’t as unlikely as it might sound; Deloitte’s data shows that the number of text messages sent last year fell to 145 billion — down seven billion from the previous year — while the number of IMs sent through messaging apps rose to 160 billion.
One of the main reasons for the switch in the UK is because text messages are often not bundled as part of a cell phone plan, and at five to 15 cents per message, the costs adds up. In the US the cause for rising messaging app use is more likely that Snapchat simply provides better functionality than standard text messaging.
Overall, there’s a strong trend toward the use of dedicated messaging apps over basic text messaging. Perhaps it’s smart that Facebook has a messaging app; maybe it’s time for Twitter to try one too.
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