By Claire West

Ovum forecasts that by 2016 operators will have lost US$54bn in SMS revenues due to the increasing popularity of social messaging services on smartphones, more than double the US$23bn they are expected to have lost by the end of 2012.

The global technology analysts believe that collaboration with handset manufacturers is imperative if operators are to remain relevant and competitive in the messaging industry.

“Social messaging is becoming more pervasive, and operators are coming under increased pressure to drive revenues from the messaging component of their communications businesses,” says Neha Dharia, consumer telecoms analyst at Ovum.

“Operators need to understand the impact of social messaging apps on consumer behaviour, both in terms of changing communication patterns and the impact on SMS revenues, and offer services to suit.”

WhatsApp, one of the more prominent social messaging brands, has seen its levels of penetration increase in markets such as Singapore and the Netherlands. Ovum believes this level of growth will continue as smartphone and mobile broadband penetration increases, and expects smaller players such as textPlus, Pinterest, and fring to cause further disruption in the messaging space.