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EDITORIAL Peace on Earth, good will to all – while messaging channels battle it out

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One of the key trends to emerge in 2023 in telemedia has been how far messaging has evolved in just a year. While SMS continues to dominate – and that is with more than 60% of businesses globally notusing it yet for A2P – OTT has started to take a large slice of the business messaging market this year.

In fact, according to data from Juniper Research, OTT dominates conversational commerce, likely accounting for 53% of spend in 2024. The rise of OTT in the messaging market has been one of the standout stories of 2023 in the messaging and telemedia industries. Starting back in the pandemic, WhatsApp in particular started to gain ground. Consumers were drawn to it for P2P messaging, but soon found themselves looking to reach out to businesses through it. The pandemic boom in ecommerce only enhanced this.

Up until November this year, the big story in messaging was how OTT/WhatsApp was eating SMS revenues – albeit slowly – and what that may mean for MNOs messaging revenues. This indeed sits behind much of Juniper Research’s messaging research this year. And, indeed, that of Telemedia News.

But that has all changed in less than a month. News that Apple is to support RCS in its iOS update in 2024 has changed everything.

For SMS, it does look like a real threat, although there is always going to be a market for simple, good old-fashioned SMS messaging in OTPs and the like – even with SMS pumping and AIT throwing a small spanner in the works. But it is WhatsApp that could be the real loser here.

Apple’s embrace of RCS suddenly sees rich messaging with all the bells and whistles confined to Google’s RCS and Apple’s iMessage for many users. If the two can be knitted together seamlessly then is there really a need for WhatsApp?

While WhatsApp has been very popular, interest is waning in it. A study in the UK in November found that many people were dropping it as they were fed up of the groups they were in and, more tellingly, don’t like that people can see if they have read their messages and not replied.

Of course, there are many hoops for RCS to jump through before it gets to be a ‘WhatsApp killer’, but it is likely to make a dent in it. It looks likely that this time next year we may well be looking at a very different messaging landscape to the one we are looking at today.

So, with that in mind, it just leaves me to wish you all a very merry and peaceful Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thanks for reading and supporting us and I look forward to where this crazy industry goes in 2024.

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