Is text messaging becoming obsolete? New study shows texting drop in Q3

smartphone texting imessage carrier revenue phone plan

Text messaging has arguably eliminated the need for phone calls on a day-to-day basis. It has enabled users to communicate concise messages without sitting through forced (and sometimes painful) conversations. But with texting alternatives such as Apple’s iMessage are gaining popularity, will text messaging soon become obsolete? According to a report published Monday, American cell phone carriers are seeing a decline in the number of text messages sent by each customer on a monthly basis.

The data comes from Chetan Sharma, an independent mobile analyst and wireless carrier consultant, who wrote that the number of text message exchanges in the U.S. had dropped by about 2 percent in the third quarter. This may not seem like a significant drop, but it’s a sharp difference from the steady growth that text messaging had previously seen. Sharma says it’s too early to tell if this is the beginning of a decline, but it is the first time that text messaging has begun to dwindle in the United States.

Texting saw a noteworthy boost in 2011, when 2 trillion texts were sent in the U.S. by the year’s end. This marked a 14 percent increase from 2010, according to Forrester Research, which also notes that 6 billion messages were sent per day throughout the country last year.

This current decrease in SMS usage, which stands for “Short Message Service,” a service enabled by cell phone carriers, can largely be attributed to the rise of text messaging alternatives.

One such platform is Apple’s iMessage, which operates almost exactly like a text message but only communicates between Apple devices. Therefore, iMessage completely bypasses the carrier when sending text messages between iPhones.

Another perpetrator could be Facebook’s Messenger app, which essentially exists as the mobile presence for the social network’s instant messaging feature. Unlike iMessage, Facebook’s Messenger app can be used across multiple platforms, which could give it an advantage when it comes to text messaging alternatives.

Does this mean the era of texting is coming to an end? Not exactly. Texting is still a huge part of the way people communicate via mobile devices, but the emergence of these new messaging options could hopefully lead the way toward cheaper texting plans.

Emerging Tech

Death from above? How we’re preparing for a future filled with weaponized drones

Drones are beginning to enable everything from search & rescue, to the delivery of medicines to hard-to-reach places. But they are also being used as cheap, and deadly flying bombs. How can we defend ourselves?

Strapped after your latest smartphone purchase? Check out our favorite MVNOs

Looking to switch from a major carrier to something a little more affordable? Luckily, there are a ton of great MVNO options to choose from. Check out our guide to the best MVNOs, from Boost Mobile to Google Project Fi.

Microsoft patent highlights a potential VR text input system

A new patent awarded to Microsoft could lead to a new typing method for virtual reality and on Xbox consoles. The virtual radial dial puts letters within easy reach of joystick commands and offers predictive typing, too.
Smart Home

Facebook’s new Portal device can collect your data to target your ads

Facebook confirmed that its new Portal smart displays, designed to enable Messenger-enabled video calls, technically have the capability to gather data on users via the camera and mic onboard.

Which new iPhone is the best? iPhone XS vs. iPhone XS Max vs. iPhone XR

Apple has three new iPhone models to choose from this year, making the choice a little harder than usual. What's the difference between the iPhone XS, the iPhone XS Max, and the iPhone XR, and which is best?

Google may charge up to $40 per Android device for app suite following EU ruling

Google announced that it will be charging Android device manufacturers in Europe a licensing fee to use its apps and services. The announcement is part of an effort to comply with new European Commission regulations.

Camera shootout! Testing the latest Pixel, iPhone, and Galaxy Note in real life

Which takes the best photos, the Pixel 3 XL, iPhone XS Max, Galaxy Note 9, or Pixel 2 XL? We put the cameras on all these top-notch phones through their paces to see which performs best in the real world, from low light to portrait mode…

Need a do-over? Here's how to factory reset an iPhone, from XS on down

Resetting an iPhone can alleviate all sorts of software woes, and wipe away personal data should you sell your device or give it to someone else. Here's how to factory reset an iPhone from within iOS or iTunes.
Product Review

Huawei’s monster Mate 20 X makes the Galaxy Note 9 look small

The Huawei Mate 20 X has a 7.2-inch screen, but is surprisingly manageable to hold, yet still a little too big to carry around. Huawei’s pushing the phone’s ability as a mobile gaming handheld, challenging the Nintendo Switch.

How to sell your old Google Pixel or Pixel 2 for the most money

So, it's time for a expensive new smartphone, and you'd like to partially fund the purchase by selling your old Google Pixel. Find all the information you need to get as much money as possible for your Pixel or Pixel 2 here in our guide.

The OnePlus 6T is coming a day earlier, event moved to October 29

According to a recent report, the launch of the OnePlus 6T could be different from any other OnePlus launch in history. How? It could have the backing of a major U.S. carrier. Here's everything we know about the OnePlus 6T.

Sprint now lets you add Hulu's Live TV service to your unlimited plan

Sprint recently introduced three new data plans to its roster -- Unlimited Basic , Unlimited Plus, and Unlimited Premium. Here, we break down your options to help you decide which one is best for you and your family.

Sams's Club offers $100 gift cards for iPhone XR pre-orders

After months of rumors and speculation, Apple has finally taken the wraps off of the new iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR. Now that the phones are out, you might be wondering how you can get them for yourself.

It’s about time! A USB-C magnetic charger for the Apple Watch has finally arrived

While most of the buzz surrounding Apple has been about the iPhone XR, the company also introduced a new Apple Watch accessory. Starting October 24, a USB-C magnetic charger will be available for purchase.