I already talked about this a few months ago, mentioning that everything indicated that the beginning of the end of the SMS era was close. The once most profitable cellular service is now in clear decline. The surge of smart-phones and other data-enabling devices has brought a whole variety of applications and services that offer exactly the same (i.e. short text messages of about 160 characters that are received, under good network and traffic conditions, nearly in real time at the other end) but for free. And, as we know, if something is free people will use it.

Whatsapp is, so far, the winning horse in this race. Already extremely popular in Spain and other European countries, it is slowly starting to become popular in the US too. Their happy moment might come to an abrupt end soon, though, given the new instant text message of Apple devices with iOS 5 (in case you didn’t know, when you text and the message is blue instead of the traditional green, that is because that message is *not* a traditional SMS but was sent over IP… oh, and you did not pay for it, it was free). I am not saying that Whatsapp will go bankrupt, but Apple users – which represent a large chunk of the market – will not need Whatsapp anymore.

This change of ages started becoming obvious in, for example, Spain when recently network operators – such as Movistar – started offering bulk SMS deals; the common “unlimited texting for 10$” that has always been common and popular in the US. Believe it or not, until recently, we Spaniards paid 10 or 15 cents each time we texted. At least we are lucky – with respect to Americans – in the sense that we do *not* – and never did – pay to receive messages or calls (seriously, US cellular providers, it is not cool to charge for receiving a message. What if someone has no unlimited plan and keeps receiving unsolicited SMSs?).

I was reading in the Barcelona press yesterday about the drastic decline of SMS traffic – and, thus, the decrease in the income it generates for operators – in Europe, the US and many other countries. You can read the news in La Vanguardia (in Spanish).

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