Can messaging apps beat SMS in the US?

This chart illustrates how the use of mobile phones in the United States has changed between 2005 and 2012. Just as messaging apps are starting to get traction in the US, a couple of interesting data points have been shared recently:

  1. The CTIA, a wireless industry trade association, announced that the number of sent messages went down for the first time ever in the US.
  2. Informa recently published a research note stating that the number of IP-based messages had overtaken traditional text messages worldwide

Services like Kik, Viber or WhatsApp are definitely gaining users popularity in the US. The question is whether or not they can survive in the long run. While their engagement is very high, the difficulty of utility apps is finding ways to monetize.

In Asian markets, Kakao Talk and Line have monetized by becoming a distribution platform and selling stickers. Will that work in the US market? Even if it does, it looks like Facebook Messenger has a clear advantage since it does not necessarily need to be ROI positive as a standalone app, just as a way to keep users on Facebook.

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