Is BlackBerry Messenger the reason for the decline in texting?

By DJ Reyes on 16 Jun 2011 10:14 am EDT
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Before I became a BlackBerry addict, my way of communicating regularly with friends, family and colleagues was through SMS. I had to make sure that my mobile phone contract came with a text bundle. This was the case for many people I know. Now, however, I own a BlackBerry and so do many of my friends and family, so I hardly text as we communicate via BBM. I've still got the text bundle but I hardly make a dent in it anymore. It seems I'm not the only one in this boat as it looks to be the case with a lot of people, particularly in the 15-24 year old age bracket. This is according to a recent report made by Mobile Youth, a consultancy who carry out research on the mobile usage of young people for mobile operators, consumer electric brands and the like. Their report suggests that Instant Messaging apps are causing a decline in the number of text messages being sent and BBM is at the top of the list.

Mobile Youth director, Graham Brown says, "We've seen SMS usage fall among young people and the main driver is BlackBerry." Their report predicts that over the next two years there will be a 20 percent drop in SMS usage in certain parts of the world. These include UK, Indonesia and South America.

I can see this being the case in the UK, just by walking around the university campus, or even the high street you'll students and teenagers tapping away at their BlackBerry devices. I forever hear BlackBerry ringtones and notifications going off here and there and to be honest it doesn't look to be slowing down. With networks offering cheap deals on pay as you go there's no surprise. And with the recent news of Apple bringing iMessage to the iPhone, we could see other regions seeing a decline in text messaging too.

Any thoughts? Do you still text? Or is it all about instant messaging? Sound off in the comments.

Reader comments

Is BlackBerry Messenger the reason for the decline in texting?


We have a TXT bundle for my daughter. My wife and I don't have it. We average about 3-5 TXT per month. So we're already about as low as we can go.

I imagine cost of bundles could be causing some people to reduce the amount of TXTing they do. Perhaps when the economy rebounds usage may increase.

If it is cost associated, then it is a good thing as carriers may offer reduced cost programs for TXT rather than just accept the dropping of bundles.....who knows.....

The carriers only have themselves to blame. They attached such high fees to their SMS plans for so long that people only naturally look for alternatives. Sure I've got unlimited texting plans for $5 a month now but it was much more expensive not so very long ago. And $5 per month per phone (5 phones on my family plan with Verizon) the price is still not very inexpensive.

I use SMS when I talk to people who don't have BBM otherwise I use BBM all the way - so its about half and half.

BBM for those BBM friends, sms for two who have feature/androids, e-mail and phone calls cover the rest.

Sms is mostly for twitter, I broke 3,500 last month! But I do use ubersoc! :)

As long as most of my friends don't use BlackBerry devices, and look at me like I'm a weirdo for still sticking with one, I pretty much have to use SMS. Heck, SMS is still the only real cross-platform push messaging mechanism out there.

Less than 2 of of 10 people I correspond with have BB's so BBM is somewhat useless to me other than to send quick messages to my wife. I have migrated over to LiveProfile which is a better solution if you correspond with people that don't use BlackBerry devices.

The problem with that is that I know more people that use BBM than I do that use Live Profile or any of the other IM apps. I know options are great with most things, but I wish one multiplatform IM solution would take over and be the one that everyone has. An IM platform is only as good as the number of people using it.

I know why RIM doesn't do it, but I still wish for my sake that they would open up BBM and offer it to other platforms. I know for myself that BBM isn't at all the reason I'm sticking with my BlackBerry. There are other benefits that have me coming back, but I understand that others don't think the same way I do and would leave BlackBerry in a second if BBM opened up.

I honestly don't know alot of people with BB's so I use SMS all the time. Plus I have unlimited text so it's really no big deal.

Not trying to be funny, but maybe texting is just dying off, a car crash here a bicycle accident there, falling into a fountain here, and people are wising up.

BBM, Text, Email, Facebook, Twitter, Skype..... I use it all, however others want to contact me. It all comes into my Blackberry notification area so it really makes no difference to me, I just hit reply.

I agree with BobGod...I use whatever my friends are using. Not everyone has a BB and with the economy the way it is, most of my friends are using a prepaid phone. Texting is still in my life.

being a BB fan, stats like this should show RIM or god forbid Apple that a cross platform messaging options that works should be in the works - If BBM worked thru the IMessage and Andronde - SMS would go away completly.....

I don't talk to a lot of people. The one I talk to the most has a BB, so BBM there. My sister has a droid so GTalk with her. Very rarely do I txt anyone else. Usually I will just call the person (yes, the BlackBerry can still be used as a telephone). I canceled my 250/$5/month plan since I rarely got out of single digits a month.

I was at an extended family gathering last night, and I happened to notice that two of my nieces, ages 13 and 14, had new Blackberry phones, so I asked them if they liked them. They love them, primarily for BBM. They had only gotten then the day before, so I was surprised to see that they had dozens of BBM contacts.

Exactly, everyone that is claiming doom and gloom for RIM only has to look at a 12-17 year old female's BBM list to see how well RIM is still doing. I know a few girls in that age group and a couple of them have over 200 BBM contacts.

I think I have 15 BBM contacts....

Huh? I know teenagers that see number of "friends /PINS" as a status symbol and post their PIN on forums so people can add them to boost their number of contacts. I would hardly use that as an indicator as to how well RIM is doing.
Amongst indictators I use are how many people day to day I actually see with a BB vs another maker smartphone and how many developers are actually developing useful low cost apps for the device.

mobile users are embracing many new IM & texting Apps, not just BBM, that provide more features than SMS messaging over phone lines, and that are free of monthly and international text fees. New social activity messaging Apps will accelerate this trend, as they enhance the social and entertainment experiences when people get together

the majority, 80-90%, of my friends have BBs so I use my BBM for them. But living in an area with 1x/CDMA makes it very unreliable

Since I switched to Android I mainly use sms followed closely by whatsapp, but when I had my bb bbm was by far the most used way of contacting people for

I use SMS with non BB folks and try to educate people who have BBs about BBM.
I've had a few people who have a BB but use sms all the time because they didn't know about BBM. RIM needs to address tighter SMS / BBM integration

RIM needs to develop a way to scan your phone book and figure out who has BBM on their device. You should then be able to invite people based on that. I know too many people that don't understand what a PIN is and don't know how to add people to their BBM. The whole process is way to hard for some people.

I know a handful of people with BlackBerrys who I still text. I like them...but I don't want them as friends on BBM. So I, for one, am glad that other BlackBerry users aren't automatically added to your BBM contact list. I think that is an excellent policy.

Cafeina totally agree. No need to be faced into some awkward position as what happens on facebook :p sometimes u don't want someone being able to keep in contact 24/7. Esp those way to addicted to their phones.

SMS only - and that's only with my wife and my brother who both have iPhones. My step-mother and step-father have BBs, but they were issued their phones (my step-mother's is from a university and my step-father's is from a state agency). BBM is not a priority use for either of them.

SMS mainly. To most people - especially my wife. My wife and one of two sons have BBs. My son uses BBM to us and I reply, but beyond that no BBM. I average about 10 text messages a day. Wife the same, email is what I use the most. My 19 year old son sends hundreds a day, the 15 year old only a few. He's not a heavy phone user at all. I'm still into picking up the phone for a phone expert to send an "I love you" to my wife when we're at work.

I do a lot of international traveling. I have a T-Mobile Blackberry. T-Mobile charges $20 per month for unlimited international Blackberry usage. Thus, when I am overseas, BBM is free and text is very expesive. This has made me use BBM by default even when in the States, where both are free.

I used to send about 5500 text a month now my average is about 1500-2000 the major decrease is because my girlfriend upgraded to a bb style and we bbm all day everyday.. Such a easy way to communicate with someone you are very close to and talk to everyday.. Everyone one else in my family have android phones even my mom so texting my go up a bit since she started to text me.. :-/

Isn't it curious that in various countries, the Blackberry data plan is cheaper than other data plans. But, in the US, the Blackberry data plan is more expensive than, or the same price as, other data plans. On prepaid its always the $10 surcharge. Why do some places see it as cheaper offer while others see it as more expensive?

I use both. I use BBM for my friends who have Blackberries, but otherwise I always use SMS for my non BB friends.

Maybe its different elsewhere, but from personal experience I find this hard to believe. I go to a large university and very few students use blackberries. Far more iPhones, some Androids, even less BB's. Within the few people that I know that do have a BB, maybe half of them even know what BBM is. I'd love to completely replace BBM with texting, but I only have maybe 3 contacts.

after years of texting on regular cell phones. It's what they're used to doing, so why would they stop? iPhone and Android people I know use sms because staying connected to their IM services and push email is a battery killer. BBM is fast, effective, free and gets it done! BB owners are fortunate to have it.

I use BBM for my friend who own a BB. I use whatsapp for my friend who own iPhone, android and nokia. I just text with 2 friends and my parents x)

In the Netherlands vodafone NL and KPN were intent to make people pay more for services like whatsapp and IM, because there saw a huge decline in texts. The parliament didn't let that happen. I praise the lord for that! :D

None of my friends have a BB as their personal phone. I am the only one. A few of my friends have a BB for their job. But the BBM is disabled by their employer. So I never use BBM, nor have I ever used BBM