What does 2017 have in store for SMS?

Published on 08 December 2016

By Dr. Pieter Streicher

As recently as 5 years ago, industry experts predicted that A2P SMS would follow the decline in P2P messaging due to the rise in instant messaging apps. They couldn’t have been more wrong. According to recent reports on Mobile Marketing Watch, industry analysts are suggesting that SMS is set to grow from a $55.49 billion to $71.60 billion industry by 2021. While this statistic might seem surprising to some, there were a few experts that expected nothing less.

One such expert, Dr. Pieter Streicher, managing director of BulkSMS.com, is confident that A2P SMS will continue to grow despite the increased use of instant messaging applications. He states that “SMS messaging has become an increasingly popular tool for business communication, particularly for business to consumer (B2C) communication. Despite the popularity of instant messaging applications, it is not suited for B2C communication. Most consumers prefer to use IM applications purely for social purposes. In addition, the IM space is constantly changing, and in 5 years might look very different to today. SMS, on the other hand, will remain a reliable and stable platform for years to come. ”

When asked how SMS remains so relevant despite the ever-changing use of communication platforms, Dr Streicher had the following to say, “Firstly, SMS has a lower risk of spam due to its relatively high cost. The low cost of instant messaging increases the risk of spam and the measures taken by IM providers to combat spam, inadvertently blocks most types of messages that businesses are likely to send.” Some of these measures include:

  • Not providing an API for A2P messaging
  • Limiting message group sizes
  • Limiting communication to those initiated by consumers
  • Limiting the number of people that can be messaged that do not have the senders contact number in their own contact list

Another reason Dr Streicher believes that SMS will stay relevant for business communication is that SMS does not rely on data coverage or internet access while IM applications, such as WhatsApp, Viber, WeChat etc, do. SMS is also supported on all mobile phones where the IM space is very fragmented with a wider variety of IM applications available. “SMS is therefore ubiquitous, while no single IM application is,” says Dr Streicher.

SMS is accessible, it eliminates the need for redundant apps and it’s familiar. Most importantly, Dr Streicher feels that the stable nature of SMS as a technology justifies the integration of SMS into third party applications.

Dr Streicher concludes that, “SMS will continue to grow globally as more industries adopt SMS messaging as a stable and reliable messaging tool. One example of a growing industry adopting SMS messaging is the “sharing industry”. This industry was put on the map by services such as Uber and Airbnb. This proliferation of global “sharing” services across multiple industries, are already benefitting from an SMS messaging component. We are excited and expectant for what 2017 will bring.”