Chinese users forgo SMS texting for messaging apps

The trend is putting pressure on China's mobile carriers, which rely on the revenue from SMS messaging

China Mobile had a large presence at Mobile World Congress 2013, drawing attention to its TD-LTE network plans.

China Mobile had a large presence at Mobile World Congress 2013, drawing attention to its TD-LTE network plans.

China has posted a big drop in SMS messaging as local mobile phone users are increasingly choosing mobile messaging apps to share information.

During the first five months of this year, SMS messaging saw a year-over-year decline of 18.4 percent, according to data from China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

Texts sent via Multimedia Messaging Service or MMS saw an even a greater decline, at 30.6 percent. A year ago, both services were still growing in user activity.

Now, however, China's mobile phone users are instead replacing the services with mobile messaging app WeChat, and Twitter-like service Sina Weibo, according to the country's IT regulator. WeChat alone has close to 400 million monthly active users and many of them come from China.

The shift to mobile messaging apps is putting pressure on the country's carriers. In last year's fourth quarter, China Mobile, the country's largest operator, posted a rare drop in its profit. Revenue from its voice calls and SMS messaging for the company continue to fall.

Despite the drop, China Mobile is banking on its newly launched 4G services to help it increase revenue. At the end of May, the company had 8 million 4G users. But still over half of its total customer base, at 787 million, continue to rely on its slower 2G networks.

The country's mobile phone users are still sending a massive amount of SMS messages. During this year's first five months, China logged over 314 billion SMS texts. The country has 1.256 billion mobile phone users.

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Michael Kan

IDG News Service
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