This Christmas saw lower than normal numbers for SMS, according to new numbers released by Forbes. As is to be expected, certain times during the year cause higher than usual numbers of SMS messages to be sent.

Major sporting events are one cause, as is events Christmas and the ringing in of a new year. The numbers this year show that we sent less messages through the carriers’ SMS networks than we did last year, which will no doubt be a concern to those same carriers who have been overcharging us for years to send a few characters of text. One country that saw a dramatic drop in the number of SMS messages sent over Christmas was Finland, with major carrier Sonera reporting a reduction of 22% over the same period in 2010. It was a similar story in Hong Kong, with a drop of 14% recorded. The reasons for such a decline are many, but one that may prove to be the long term answer to expensive SMS messages is the emergence of new, internet-based messaging systems such as iMessage and the older BlackBerry Messenger.

With more iPhones being sold every week, Apple’s addition of iMessage in iOS 5 could see SMS numbers continue to dwindle over the coming months and years. Obviously, the number of messages sent during Christmas 2012 will give us a better indication as to how things are going beyond this past year.

With more and more smartphones beyond sold, other messaging systems could also prove popular. The cross-platform WhatsApp is one service which has seen huge popularity over the last 12 months, with its availability across all the major mobile platforms giving it a massive boost over the single-platform iMessage and BBM.

We hope Apple will release numbers that show just how popular iMessage is during 2011 so we can judge how far the free alternative to SMS can erode into the carriers’ stranglehold on the instant messaging systems we use today.

Both Apple with iMessage and RIM with BlackBerry Messenger have already begun the shift from SMS to internet-based messaging, and it’s now up to everyone else to keep the pressure on carriers.


  • Kok Hean

    iMessage to send free messages to iOS users
    WhatsApp to send free messages and multimedia to WhatsApp users
    Normal text messages (free in plan) to send messages to others
    Viber to call people on Android and iOS
    Normal phone (free minutes) to call other people
    All of this includes data

    Only pay for the plan, people ._.

    • Which In Pakistan is just about 30cents for 5000 sms.. :D..

    • No Whammy

      Until last night when my last heavy text-ing friend upgraded to iOS5, I wondered how AT&T was going to handle iMessage. I went to switch from 1000 SMS to 200 and found out what they’d done to compensate: $20 Unlimited messaging is the only thing they offer now. Sneaky bastards. I wonder if I can cancel my SMS plan outright and pay $0.10/whatever for the 50 or so I’ll be doing monthly.

  • I got 500 free texts from my carrier. I barely text so it’s all fine.

  • Dan

    I use iMessage and Whatsapp, but I already got unlimited texts so it.s not a game changer for me. Most provides give unlimited texts in Canada.

  • Use google voice. End of story. One number for calls and texts. Free SMS. Free calls with third party apps like Talkatone using google voice number. Even get better features than anything apple has

    • Anonymous

      Absolutely the best. Amazing service. My reason for jailbreaking, that way is integrated in the iPhone and Messages (or biteSMS) apps. Nothing better.

  • Hopefully all carriers will see sense and will drastically reduce the cost of sending SMS.

  • Anonymous

    i noticed this over New Years, sms i’ve sent previous years have always been delayed sometimes by many hours, this time all the ones i sent were delivered within minutes 🙂

  • Anonymous

    iMessage and viber aren’t the best for people on the 200mb data plan from AT&T.

    Otherwise it’s great if you have wifi access at all times

  • Anonymous

    “With more and more smartphones beyond sold, other messaging systems”
    It should be “being sold,” not “beyond sold.”
    Feel free to delete this comment after correcting.

  • Russ Anderson

    I dream of a unified messaging system. One where senders enter the message with the service they like, and the receiver gets it the way they like… only uses data, and allows for images/videos. Right now I use Viber for some people overseas, various IM’s for various people (I have this unified with Beehive/Meebo/whatever), iMessage for my iOS friends (and mms), and Googlevoice for text messages. I am free from a text-message plan… but it’s annoying.

  • i love how KakaoTalk was left out, a much better app than WhatsApp and it’s free

  • I get unlimited texts so i texted just the same last year as the year before , and I can bet that this will apply to this year as well..and yes I use iMessage as well ..

  • Painman

    The good thing about iMessage is that it is automatic. Once you have registered your device it will swap between SMS and iMessage automatically depending on the recipient. The sooner that we can implement other services into a unified package the better for everyone.

  • Here’s what happened to me. I’m in japan. I use imessage to chat with my friends all over the world.
    At first the send button was blue so i knew imessage was on so i started to have text conversation with my friend in swiss. We got so deep into the conversation that i didn’t realise the send button has turned green. After sometime i saw the green send button. Then i told my friend lets chat in viber, then he told me he is out for shopping and he doesn’t have access to data. He was one of my best friend so i didn’t care about the sms rate that my carriers going to charge and we went on chatting.
    And there were times when i was not able to access data(no imessage), but i keep recieving international sms from my friends from uk, us , bahrain, hk etc. And i have to reply them at least once.
    When my bills arrived i was shocked. International sms was so expensive that my wife started bitching on me…she says “if you love your friends so much go live with them”
    Anyway learned my lesson. If you’ll don’t want to be in this kind of situation goto setting/messages and turn off send as sms.

    • i juz disable iMessage totally and stick to whatsapp..its a pissed off u cant switch between iMessage and normal message unless u turn it off