The End Of the Text

OMG! Are text messages losing their instant edge. According to the Guardian the amount of texts has dropped in 2013 as users turn to messaging services such as WhatsApp and Snapchat. So, is the end of the text?

Over the past few years texting has literally taken the English language by the jugular and given it a good hard shake, leaving us with sometimes-undecipherable messages that used to only warrant a Boggle box.

It’s no surprise the amount of text messages flying around soared, because they’ve become the backbone of a reality TV generation that has encouraged everyone to ‘VOTE NOW’.  But as with everything in the technological telecoms age, nothing lasts for more than five minutes and if you aren’t talking about the next best thing then you might as well give up.

In this case we’re talking smartphones and Internet-based instant message services such as WhatsApp (http://www.whatsapp.com/) and Snapchat (http://www.snapchat.com/). Research shows the volume of old-fashioned texts sent last year is estimated to have fallen by 7bn to 145bn. Accounting firm Deloitte has actually just released a report that predicts the numbers of texts will continue to fall again this year to 140bn.

It’s significant for one reason only, because there has NEVER been a decline in text messages before. Why now? Because the younger generation are smartphone savvy, they know they can message more instantly for less and to multiple people and with more photos, clips and other interesting bits and bobs. They might be young, but they aren’t niaive when it comes to technology.

As well as the young and the technologically sound, there’s a whole generation of people over 50 years old who know enough to wise up to touch screen and don’t want to get left behind. It’s this older generation who will impact the figures. There won’t be a generation gap in a few years.

Deloitte claims that 160bn instant messages were sent in Britain last year. But those 300bn instant messages will be sent in 2014.

The text message has come a long way in a short time. Nokia produced the first mobile phone capable of writing texts in 1993. By 2001, the UK was sending more than 1bn texts a month. It was the arrival of the iPhone in 2007 that saw instant messaging become the norm.

BBM was soon joined by Apple's iMessage, Facebook Messenger, and in 2009 by WhatsApp. Another one we’ll be hearing more of is WeChat, owned by the Chinese web giant Tencent, which as of November claimed 270 million monthly active users worldwide. While its stronghold is in the domestic market, there were 100 million WeChat users outside of China.

Text messages it seems are set to be replaced by the instant message. The question is, will there remain a place for them in the telecoms world in the future, or has this trend signaled the end of the text? Have your say below.

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