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How Widespread is Mobile Over the Top VoIP and Messaging?

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October 11, 2012

How Widespread is Mobile Over the Top VoIP and Messaging?

By Gary Kim, Contributing Editor

More than 45 percent of customers with a smartphone use some form of instant messaging  or over-the-top (OTT) messaging app in addition to (and in some cases instead of) traditional text messaging (SMS), according to Analysys Mason .

In addition, 20 percent of consumers use a VoIP app, and 20 percent of those consumers use it more than traditional voice services.

The data was collected from more than 1,000 smartphone users in France, Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. 

Image via Shutterstock

About 20 percent of the respondents used the “WhatsApp Messenger” at some point over the 60 days of usage that were tracked as part of the story.

The good news for service providers is that OTT communication apps have not managed to become so important to end users that carrier services are abandoned. Just 1.7 percent of the panel used IM or OTT messaging without using text messaging at all.

At least for the moment, that low degree of full substitution is a byproduct of “islands of connectivity” that requires both parties to a session to use a single app.

“The relative fragmentation of the messaging market (compared to, for example, Skype’s (News - Alert) dominance of the VoIP market) will continue to hinder full substitution,” says Stephen Sale, Analysys (News - Alert) Mason lead analyst.

On the other hand, the number of text messages sent per active user is already declining in some Western countries, Sale says.

Skype continues to dominate the VoIP market, Sale says. Some 79 percent of VoIP users on the panel used the service. But keep in mind that only 16 percent of all panelists use VoIP apps.

The other notable VoIP apps used by panelists are Viber, fring (News - Alert) and Google Talk, as used by five percent, 0.8 percent and 0.6 percent of respondents, respectively.

Still, 20 percent of VoIP users (about four percent of the panelists) used mobile VoIP more than traditional voice services.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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