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Free chat apps overtake the humble SMS

apps Updated: Apr 30, 2013 00:16 IST
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For the first time, instant messaging apps, such as WhatsApp and BlackBerry Messenger, have overtaken the SMS. These apps, which allow users to message each other, share data and have group chats for free, are a rage among youngsters.

Almost 19 billion messages were sent per day on chat apps in 2012, compared to 17.6 billion SMSes, consultancy firm Informa said. By 2014, that number is expected to touch 50 billion for apps and just over 21 billion for SMSes.

Research firm Ovum estimated that Indian mobile operators lost $780 million (about R4,200 crore) in SMS revenue in 2012 due to growth of free messengers.

Seeing the threat, mobile operators have embraced such apps.

In October 2012, Reliance Communications partnered with Facebook and WhatsApp to give unlimited access to its GSM users for only R16 per month.

Last week, Hike, a messaging service from India which has more than 5 million registered users, raised a $7 million investment from Bharti SoftBank, which is headed by Kavin Bharti Mittal, son of Bharti Airtel's chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal.

"There is room for a messaging app that caters to local needs of the market," technology news website quoted Kavin as saying.

According to Nielsen India Consumer Rankings, WhatsApp was the most engaging mobile app in the country last year.