Media Hub

Acision's annual research shows UK and US messaging trends become more closely aligned as OTT service usage proliferates

  • US OTT messaging usage driven by speed (50%), rich features (36%) and reliability (35%), but UK Smartphone users also vote cost (47%) as a mitigating factor
  • In the UK, 18 to 25 year old Brits are the most prolific ‘messagers’, sending around 225  messages a week - over 22% more than any other UK age group surveyed
  • By fast tracking Rich Messaging / RCS, operators can provide unique value across all service requirements while building a path to monetisation through usage analytics and new features

Research from the global mobile messaging leader, Acision, again reinforces the popularity of IP and over-the-top (OTT) messaging services in both the United Kingdom and the United States. The second edition of Acision's annual research, which analyses messaging behaviours and requirements of Smartphone users in the UK and US, demonstrates that there are strong parities between both markets with consumers using multiple messaging services every day, which significantly impacts messaging traffic.

Both the US and UK represent two of the most mature markets in Smartphone and IM take up and are regarded as benchmarks for other regions. Acision’s research revealed that 77% of UK and 72% US Smartphone users are today using multiple messaging channels each day, including SMS, MMS and IM/over-the-top (OTT) applications, to fulfil their messaging needs.

Appropriate Messaging
While SMS remains an essential communication tool in both regions due to its pervasive nature, (used by 96% of UK respondents and 92% in the US), exactly half of US users claimed they prefer OTT messaging services over SMS because of its speed.  Rich features, such as the ability to see when a message is delivered (36%), as well as reliability (35%), came second and third as reasons for US Smartphone users shifting to OTT services.  Speed (53%) was also cited as the main reason UK users prefer OTT messaging services, with cost (47%) a close second. With far fewer UK than US users (53% compared to 77%) having unlimited SMS bundles, this may be a reason why cost is an important factor in OTT messaging usage in the UK.

The most prolific users of messaging services are 18 to 25 year old Brits, who send more messages than any other group in the UK with every type of message service.  When analysing the most popular messaging applications by numbers of messages sent, across all age groups BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) comes out on top in the UK, with an average of 110 messages sent every week. This is followed by SMS (75 messages per week - MPW), WhatsApp (74 MPW) with both iMessage and Facebook Messenger following at (64 MPW). SMS rules in the US, with an average of 111 messages sent every week, with those aged 12 to 18 sending 150 SMS messages per week – 35% more than the average user.  The continued high SMS usage, again maybe influenced by unlimited SMS packages.

IM is generally seen to be at least as appropriate a message service as SMS - if not more so, when communicating with friends/peers. This suggests that SMS is not always the first choice among consumers in certain situations.  However, there is also a clear view on when certain messaging services should not be used; with 35% of consumers across the UK and 29% in the US stating instant messaging is less appropriate than SMS for communications in work situations.

Operator Rich Messaging
Reflecting on this uptake of OTT services, Acision described the GSMA’s Rich Communication Suite (RCS) of services to survey recipients, which is being rolled out by carriers globally as a single, unified messaging service branded as ‘joyn™’.  An overwhelming majority (75% in the US and 77% in the UK), stated a clear interest in an operator led service if packaged at the right price. 

JF Sullivan, EVP Product Management and CMO at Acision said: “The messaging habits of these Smartphone users, plus their interest in ‘joyn’, highlights a distinct opportunity for operators to fast-track the deployment of a seamless rich messaging experience for their customers, which works across all messaging communities, devices and networks globally. This, combined with analytics of user data and intelligence, can lead down a path to service monetisation and incremental revenue, where operators can easily launch new features based on what consumers want.

“Our research shows that over three quarters of users across both markets want a single messaging service that can reach everyone, and where the messages will follow them on any device to continue the conversation at any time, day or night. This is a clear message to mobile operators, who are best placed to fulfil this demand for better integrated messaging services.  Only they can offer the ubiquity of service their customers are demanding.”
 
Keep it simple!
Youths want their messaging service to be as simple as possible. More than three quarters (76%) of US teenagers would like a messaging service where they can reach everybody, regardless of the type of messaging app they are using. Compare this with 61% of UK teens who would like the same service. The same number of British teenagers would also be interested in a messaging service that would guarantee immediate delivery of all messages – regardless of what messaging application was used to send or receive them, highlighting the need for SMS and MMS interworking and fall back in any rich messaging service. 

Sullivan continued, “Operators may be missing a trick if they are not focusing on how they can exploit their SMS offering as the research shows a clear desire for SMS fall back as well as enhanced features around SMS. Features like message notifications showing when a message has been delivered or read are rated as one of the most desirable features, with 65% of US consumers and 59% of UK users expressing an interest in this. Mobile operators are in a unique position to easily adapt and tailor their existing messaging services to meet the changing needs of their customers, while evolving rich, quality messaging service features, with ubiquitous reach.  As such, they should provision new and innovative Rich Media services that not only deliver a great user experience, but also challenge the fragmented usage and capture users.”

Jorgen Nilsson, Chief Executive at Acision, concluded: “The popularity of OTT apps cannot be denied, however it is important for operators to combine the knowledge of this market with insight they have into the uptake, usage and experience of consumers. Utilising this kind of intelligence alongside a consolidated messaging platform from Acision, can accelerate Rich Messaging service deployment, ensuring operators can provide services that are founded on the core strengths of SMS, leverage enhanced features of OTT apps while also providing additional value, which can be monetised. Acision offers a solid portfolio of products and services to help operators adapt to the shifting messaging market and launch new game-changing services.”

Acision will be hosting a half day Rich Messaging Forum at 9.30am on Thursday 27th June, during the GSMA’s Mobile Asia Expo 2013 in Shanghai. Based on the research, the session will discuss current messaging behaviours and expectations of consumers in the new over-the-top (OTT), IP messaging world, while also showcasing the path to providing a new, enriched end-to-end messaging experience across any network, domain, technology and device. This Forum is free to attend and open to all exhibition visitors. For more information and to register your interest, please click here.


#####

Acision Research
Conducted by Vanson Bourne in January and April 2013, the research is Acision’s second comprehensive study on the mobile messaging landscape. It is based on interviews with 1000 Smartphone owners in the UK and 1000 Smartphone owners in the US.

About Vanson Bourne
Vanson Bourne, a specialist research-led consultancy, carries out user research within a technology context. The company interviews senior decision makers from a variety of functions, across a whole range of industries, in organisations from the smallest to the largest, in markets around the globe. Vanson Bourne's clients range from start-ups to well-known companies that need expert guidance, delivering robust and credible research-based analysis.