With third-party instant messaging apps, Apple’s own iMessage, and VoIP services becoming more prevalent, it is to be expected that at some point mobile networks will see a reduction in revenue as people move away from using SMS and voice calling.

What we didn’t really expect is the move to start happening so soon. But according to one report, carriers are already feeling the pinch.

Research carried out by infrastructure solutions provider Mavenir Systems on behalf of mobileSQUARED suggests that carriers are already finding that third-party solutions are beginning to impact their business, and it’s only going to get worse for the bottom line…

In order to get a clear picture of what is going on, Mavenir spoke to 31 different cell carriers around the globe, and the general consensus is a simple one: applications such as Skype, WhatsApp, and iMessage are causing carriers to notice a reduction in voice calls and, importantly, a reduction in the revenues generated from the lucrative SMS services they offer.

The trend arguably began with Research In Motion, and the BlackBerry’s built-in Messager system. Replacing SMS with a BlackBerry-to-Blackberry messaging protocol, BBM all but replaced SMS for those who were entrenched in the Blackberry ecosystem. Users could, in theory, never spend a penny on SMS.

Now, Apple has also joined the fray, with iMessage essentially being a BBM clone for iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches.

Third-party solutions such as WhatsApp have also made an impact, with the added benefit availability on just about every platform out there. which makes WhatsApp just as ubiquitous as SMS, but without the costs.

“The mobile landscape is changing as users embrace messaging of all kinds that enable them to seamlessly message a multitude of devices,” mobile(SQUARED) analyst Gavin Patterson added. ”This study confirms that lucrative messaging revenues are already impacted and operators are assessing ways to deliver core-network services in the all-IP environment.”

Voice calling is also covered by solutions such as Skype. With apps on almost every major mobile operating system, Skype has the potential to nearly kill traditional voice calls.

These are changing times in the mobile communications world, and carriers will need to find new ways of monitoring their business if they want to be around in 10 years.

Have you embraced IP-based technology such as Skype, or are you still an old school kinda person?


  • i am using Viber and another service called Spikko for long long time the only bad thing about it that every country i visit i need a new sim card bat hopefully apple will solve that problem soon 🙂

  • Anonymous

    I use texting. Doesn’t matter what phone, what carrier, or what apps an accounts you have. You don’t even need a smart phone to text. Plus AT&T only charges $30 a month for unlimited and that covers all 5 lines and gives you unlimited mobile to any mobile minutes.

    I don’t see texting going anywhere because it is so universal. I never hear any of my friends talking about any of those services either. Yea BBM and iMessage are good if you’re already on those platforms but not everyone is. It’s probably a bigger trend for international users but Americans who only text Americans don’t need to use these other services.

  • Dan

    can’t wait for voip to be available in canada, I will definately downgrade my plan

  • mail

    In Germany providers (e.g. Vodafone) are beginning to ban Instant Messaging in ther terms & conditions, like VoIP or Tethering before. Yet I don’t know if they will be able to find out, if you violate…

  • mail

    In Germany providers (e.g. Vodafone) are beginning to ban Instant Messaging in ther terms & conditions, like VoIP or Tethering before. Yet I don’t know if they will be able to find out, if you violate…

  • Whatsapp is the best

  • In uae we have special plans for messaging app without full internet access

    • Anonymous

      Hey, Hazem. This is true everywhere. Read on:

      SMS (short message service) uses the “talk band” not the “data band”. So for SMS, you do not need internet access of any kind.

      MMS (multi-media service) is a combo of SMS (for the header) and internet access (for the multimedia payload), so you need a carrier-provided, MMS-internet gateway to get the payload through. And, carriers charge “extra” for MMS — another extra rip-off.

  • Anonymous

    I use GoogleVoice for the iPhone (and Google Voice at http://www.google.com/voice for my MBP). Yeah, the dark side, but it works like a (cheap) charm:

    First, GoogleVoice provides me with a single virtual phone number for all my iDevices. I control the settings on replication, incoming and outgoing, and in email trancription (yeah! it transcribes between SMS text and SMTP emails.)

    ==> All incoming texts go to this virtual number and are rendered on all the destinations I care to receive (including email)
    <== All outgoing texts leave from the single, virtual number regardless of the physical number of the source (you can reply to texts from email).

    Texts between your instrument and the GoogleVoice servers travel ALWAYS over the data plan, not the voice plan, so there are no carrier charges for texts (except for the few packets that use your data allowance).

    But GoogleVoice texts use traditional SMS between target and the GoogleVoice servers, at no charge!, so it is universally available to any text-enabled destination. As a matter of fact, the destination has no clue that I am using GoogleVoice and a single virtual number.

    Check it out: GOTO: http://www.google.com/voice

    Caveat: GoogleVoice is available only to US-based users only; no international texting is available as of today. But they say it is "on the works".

  • i LOVE iDB !

  • If I were you I suggest removing this post because people like us would rather pay less for mobile usage.

    For a carriers POV, I think they should start thinking of using Ads to start making revenue (eg. App Store Free Apps & SMS Updates)

    I say this will help them earn the equivelant revenue and if customers don’t like it (or there are phehaps on a premium service) they have the option the stop apps with a small monthly fee.

    I’m saying this as a neutral statement and in both ways carriers are at a losing point.

  • old style ftw

  • Zahaan Eswani

    I use viber and Skype, but only for international calls and texts

  • Kok Hean

    Viber + WhatsApp = No overcharging

  • I like using HeyTell to leave short voice messages for friends who also have HeyTell on their iPhones. It’s a free app and pretty fun to use – somewhat walkie-talkie style.

  • Anonymous

    Apple Only needs carriers to sell their phones…if they could they will launch their own service, but that will be a waste of money and a whole new enterprise, which they probably don’t want to get too… I guess they will use any change they get to come up with good spruces like I message, which save me already some money…

  • Amandeep Singh

    Since I got an iPhone one year back, I have seldom used the messages which count on my carrier usage.. I have got Whatsapp and then Apple’s recently released iMessage and never used text messages as succh as most of my friends are available on these 2 apps.. 🙂

  • Viber and whatssapp with a hint of phone, in the netherlands it’s becoming a huge issue with the telco’s unability to adapt to the new status quo.

  • boneflute

    does iMessage do VoIP ?!?