|People sent 897.3 billion text messages via their mobile phones in China last year, according to figures from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. A Qing / For China Daily|
Telecom operators see text message revenues drop as users go online
The number of text messages sent by people in China in 2012 grew only 2.1 percent year-on-year, the lowest in four years, as the increasing popularity of mobile applications is eating into the pie of telecom operators.
People sent 897.3 billion text messages via their mobile phones in China last year, according to figures from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. By contrast, the total number of mobile phone users in China increased 12.8 percent year-on-year to 1.1 billion by December.
The larger reach of mobile phones, especially smartphones, has boosted the popularity of mobile Internet services, which made a dent on the services offered by telecom carriers, such as text messages and voice services, said Gao Xinmin, vice-president of the Internet Society of China, an industry association.
WeChat, one of the services cited by Gao, is a mobile application developed by China's largest Internet company, Tencent Holdings Ltd, that enables users to send text, voice messages, and pictures free of charge.
The number of its users reached 300 million earlier this month, only two years after it was launched in January 2011.
"Consumers now have multiple communication choices. Mobile applications such as Wechat and micro blogs have attracted a large number of people, and therefore, created a decrease in terms of individual short message volumes," said Sandy Shen, a telecom analyst with Gartner Inc.