Death of the text? Mobile phone users turn to free instant messaging as electronic communication of choice
By Ryan Kisiel
Last updated at 4:25 PM on 25th April 2011
- Number of texts to 'drop by 20%' in the next two years
- Young people are using BlackBerrys instead of other smartphones because it has a free BBM messenger
Mobile text messaging could become extinct within a generation as millions of young people turn to other forms of electronic communication.
Teenagers are increasingly using instant messaging from mobile phones and social networking sites such as Facebook.
Experts predict the amount of texts sent in the UK will drop by 20 per cent in the next two years.
It comes as teenagers and students are increasingly using BlackBerrys instead of iPhones and other smartphones because the device has a free BBM messenger.
Cheap alternative: Teenagers and students are increasingly using BlackBerrys instead of iPhones and other smartphones because it has a free BBM messenger
Sales in the phone, that was once the preserve of the corporate boardroom, have increased six-fold during the last year, mainly due to being taken up by 16 to 24-year-olds.
A study for broadband provider TalkTalk found only 51 per cent of Britons in their teens or early twenties say email is their first choice of communication.
Industry experts believe that if this trend is followed into adulthood then text messaging could disappear within a generation.
Instant messaging is extremely similar to texting, but faster and cheaper. It is free on BlackBerry phones even for ‘pay and go’ customers and is used by 39million people across the world.
Communication consultants Mobile Youth said the main drop in texts is down to the rise in instant messaging.
Graham Brown, the firm’s managing director, said: ‘We’ve seen SMS usage fall among young people and the main driver in BlackBerry.
‘Teens and students were picking up BlackBerrys as hand-me-downs because parents were upgrading and started playing and exploring.’
Richard Windsor, a mobile analyst at Nomura, said: ‘Once text messaging starts to decline, I think it could continue to decline until it hits zero.’
‘Once text messaging starts to decline, it could continue to decline until it hits zero’
A recent report found that instant messaging will also overtake emails and make that form of contact extinct too.
It comes as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg declared that ‘email is dead’ as he launched the new instant messaging service on the social networking site last November.
The report found the electronic form of contact is already becoming 'grey mail' with the most devoted users being pensioners, followed by middle-aged Britons.
Although inboxes are still filling up daily all over the world, experts believe emails are dying out because they are too slow, too inconvenient and simply not fashionable any more.
Email took 20 years to develop into the phenomenon it is now, but could take just half as long to die out again, said report author Professor David Zeitlyn, from University Of Kent.
Experts believe people prefer the 'one and done' style of message, which is where a short message like those on Twitter, can be sent to all contacts at the same time.
Other email alternatives, such as instant messaging, texting and social networks like Facebook, are quick and easy and can be done anywhere with modern technology.