Traditional text messaging is declining for the first time, but this does not mean we are any less attached to our cell phones, according to a new study by tech analyst Chetan Sharma. Cell phone users have been able to find alternatives to monthly charges that comes with texting. This is putting a strain on cell phone companies as competition has produced many free ways to communicate on smartphones that lets users avoid paying extra on their monthly cell phone bill.
The study looked at a time period in 2012, and found that the average American sent 678 texts per month. This is the first time there has been a decline, from the peak of 696 texts each month in the summer of 2011.
Experts are saying that this change is a result of an increase in usage of Internet-based messaging like Apple's iMessage, Skype, and Facebook messaging. A report released last May showed that the time smartphones users were on Facebook while on their phones has increased, and the social network is a way to communicate without texting. The report from May also found that in other countries like Denmark and Norway the trend is even more visible.
“With social networking and other platforms, they really take the messaging feature away from that usual channel,” said Wayne Lam, a wireless communication analyst, to Time. "Consumers are messaging, but text messaging as a whole is competing with other forms of messaging.”
WhatsApp is a popular program that allows users to avoid mobile charges. It functions similarly to normal texting, but it uses the Internet to keep users connected. It is popular worldwide, and has been downloaded over 100 million times on the Android. It is the top paid app in over 100 countries. The company announced in August that it reached a record of 10 billion messages sent and received in one day. Although mobile companies do not like that these programs are taking away revenue, WhatsApp has been working with companies to encourage users to buy bigger data plans.
It used to be that if you had a cell phone, you had two options for communicating: calling or texting. Now, users have many alternative options. With Facebook's Messenger, users can talk to friends with live chatting on their phone. Apple's new iOS 5 system features iMessaging, which is now preinstalled on all iPhones. Messages on this service don't factor into the monthly plan.
Cover photo courtesy of Yutaka Tsutano/Flickr