SMS is fading fast in China

24 Jun 2014

Random stat of the day: mobile users in China are now sending less than two SMSs per day.

That’s according to China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), which released figures last week showing that SMS messaging dropped 18.4% from January to May this year. (MMS dropped 30.6%.)

Moreover, the figures work out to an average of just under 40 SMS/MMS messages a month per household. That’s roughly 1.3 messages per day.

The MIIT credits the drop to substitution of microblogging and OTT text services like Tencent – although it doesn’t mention Tencent by name, but it’s a reasonably good guess. Tencent’s most recent figures show that WeChat has 396 million monthly active users (MAUs) as of Q12014, while sister IM service QQ Messenger has 848 million MAUs.

(Incidentally, those numbers make QQ the world’s biggest messenger/chat platform – with WhatsApp no. 2 and WeChat no. 3 – and the second biggest social platform in the world after Facebook, according to We Are Social.)

For what it’s worth, China’s traditional voice business isn't faring so well either. It’s still growing – voice minutes were up 2.3% from January to May. But that’s also down 3.6% from the same period last year.

The good news: the industry is still making money. The MIIT says total telecom industry revenues grew 15.8% from January to May, which is also two percentage points higher growth compared to the same period last year. The MIIT credits the growth to spikes in mobile roaming and data usage during the May holiday period. Mobile internet traffic, meanwhile is up 52% year-on-year.

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