24 Feb, 2015 by Vyshnavi Dabbir
Future of SMS in India
Twenty-two years after the world’s first ever SMS was sent, the future of SMS in an emerging market like India needs speculation on its role in the ever-growing mobile market. There has been a substantial decline in the volume of person-to-person (P2P) SMS messages in different countries worldwide in the last couple of years. However, SMS is certainly an attractive option for P2P texting in a country like India, where the technological readiness for intense “over-the-top” (OTT) endorsement is entirely not in place. A wider use of OTT messages, using social networking messengers, WhatsApp and the likes is possible only in countries where 3G or a better network to support OTT speed and accessibility is prevalent everywhere. SMS is more familiar to the Indian telecom users compared to the other forms of mobile communication. For the sizable percentage of Indians enduring to consume 2G services, SMS is the only option for messaging. It is supported by all the handsets regardless of geography, operating system, mobile services and networks. It is operable even in those parts of the country where there is little or no data service available. The penetration of smartphones in different markets, as well as the social lives of all walks of people, is still limited in a developing country like India.
While most of the P2P communication through text is through OTT messages, application–to-person (A2P) messages will continue to enable the SMS industry to survive and surge over the next many years in most of the markets. A2P messages are those that are sent to the users from different applications such as updates from the bank on the user’s transactions, mobile ticketing for events, etc. A2P usage will continue to grow in a variety of industries. The number of A2P messages are expected to increase globally by at least half a trillion in the next four years. “SMS will grow along with the increase of A2P requirements and the need for the companies to reach their customers using a reliable technology” states Bart Vandekerckhove, Head of Mobile Messaging at International wholesale telecoms carrier BICS. SMS works seamlessly on legacy systems making it the most consistent and useful mobile technology. The dependability and robustness extended to large enterprises by SMS cannot be offered by OTT services.
As per the research conducted by McKinsey & Company to assess the relative risk of markets tipping away from SMS and towards OTT messaging, it was identified that emerging markets such as India and China face low risk of markets leaning away from SMS. This is particularly due to the fact that these nations fall behind other countries in terms of technology infrastructure and that the use of SMS is still on the rise in these countries. The research observations demonstrate that the telecommunication carriers in India should construct a mobile communications strategy to make the best use of SMS messaging. The landscape of SMS may be different, a decade later as OTT usage continues to multiply. Though A2P may not support SMS for longer terms, it is speculated that A2P SMS will persevere to intensify in the next few years. The focus should be to maximize SMS revenues before OTT usage starts to rise multifold by enhancing the service features of SMS. Businesses that need security and reliability should find compelling ways to integrate SMS in their mobile communications.