The number of mobile text, picture and video messages sent in Asia-Pacific (AP) will top 3.5 trillion this year, up 14 per cent from the 3 trillion sent last year, according to Ovum. The global messaging market represents 7.5 trillion traffic in 2011 and it is not a surprise that AP holds almost 50% of the share.
In a new forecast*, the independent telecoms analyst also predicts that the AP market will generate revenues of $39 billion this year, up 7 per cent on last year's performance.
However, Ovum finds that the global market will eventually slow, with revenues and message numbers starting to decline, as alternative messaging solutions from internet service providers, handset vendors and social networks make their mark. The Asia-Pacific market in particular is relatively insulated from the impending global decline. Growth rates will slow down in terms of revenue and messaging traffic growth, but it will not result in a decline for the period forecasted. The growth in the region is driven by countries such as China, which contributes significantly to the messaging revenue and traffic of the region and is a star performer of the region with 11 per cent increase in revenue from 2010 to 2011. The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2011 to 2016 for AP is 4.76% which is the second highest growing region after South and Central America.
Neha Dharia, Ovum analyst and author of a new report on mobile messaging commented: "While over the next four years the mobile messaging market will continue to grow, it is fast approaching an inflection point. Consumers will increasingly choose to send messages via the growing list of internet-based messaging services that have entered the market, rather than the traditional text message".
"The trend is intensifying due to the growing presence of smartphones, low-cost data plans, and the prevalence of third-party messaging service providers on the mobile phone. To continue to drive revenues from messaging, mobile operators will need to be innovative in their approach to both the services they offer and their business models."
Device vendors have been particularly successful with messaging services to rival the SMS. Examples such as RIM's BlackBerry Messenger, Apple's iMessage and Nokia's Ovi Messaging are all proving popular and are stealing a share of mobile operators' SMS revenues.
Meanwhile, social messaging is growing in importance by offering users new ways to communicate with their mobile phone and transforming the content of the message. The arrival of players such as Facebook on the mobile phone has caused messaging to occur around shared photographs and other media. In addition, Twitter has triggered discussions over hot topics and current affairs, with the social network claiming that 40 per cent of tweets come from mobile devices.
According to the report, to claw back lost market share, mobile operators should expand their messaging portfolio and add their own internet-based messaging option, taking care not to replicate exactly those already in the market place.
Dharia added: "Simply replicating a popular third-party service won't result in success for an operator-branded service. Operators must offer over and above a basic service, by leveraging exclusive information they hold on consumers, such as frequently called contacts."