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SMS sent down for third year in a row – Business Daily

The number of SMSs texts sent dropped for the third year in a row as the platform took a hit from the growing popularity of internet-based messaging. PHOTO | COURTESY
The number of Short Message Services (SMSs) texts sent dropped for the third year in a row as the platform took a hit from the growing popularity of internet-based messaging platforms and promotions on call tariffs.
An analysis of the latest industry data from the Communications Authority (CA) shows that consumers sent 44.3 billion texts in the year ended June— an 18.7 percent drop from last year.
The fall in SMS comes at a time of increased popularity for platforms such as WhatsApp and Telegram, which are cheaper and come with options that include video calling and photo sharing.
Meanwhile, talk-time increased three percent to 79.3 billion minutes in the period under review as callers took advantage of an increase in calling offers where they get bundled minutes, SMS and mobile data in a fight for market share.
For instance, in the quarter ending June 2022, mobile operators rolled out seven promotions targeting data and four for voice, while there were none specifically tailored for SMS.
Safaricom— the market leader in voice and SMS markets— says that the growth prospects for text market dimming due to the growing popularity of internet-based platforms.
“Voice and messaging still have a lot of opportunity to be explored despite stiff competition from both direct competitors and cannibalization from Internet Protocol messaging platforms such as WhatsApp,” Safaricom said in its annual report for the year ended March.
This is the second lowest number of SMS sent in six years—with the last time it was lower being the year ending June 2016 at 33.32 billion texts.
Revenues that telcos make from the SMS market have also been declining in recent years, reflecting the waning prospects of the platform.
CA data shows that SMS accounted for four percent or Sh12.6 billion of the Sh315 billion that telecommunications firms made last year, a drop from a 5.8 percent share or Sh16.25 billion that telcos made from the market in 2020.
The jump in minutes that mobile phone subscribers spent calling helped Airtel increase its share of the market, eating into the dominance of Safaricom. Airtel ate into Safaricom’s share of the voice market in the year ended June to hold 31.9 percent of the market from 29.7 percent a year earlier.
Safaricom’s share dropped to 66.1 percent in the year from 68.3 percent last year while Telkom Kenya’s share fell to 1.8 percent from 2.2 percent a year earlier.
Safaricom and Airtel have been competing for customers by rolling out call promotions which have offered consumers lower call tariffs.
The SMS market shares of Safaricom and Airtel remained unchanged in the year ended June at 90.3 percent and 9.3 percent respectively, forcing the telcos to take their battle to the voice, data and mobile money market.
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Joseph Muongi

Financial.co.ke was founded by Mr. Joseph Muongi Kamau. He holds a Master of Science in Finance, Bachelors of Science in Actuarial Science and a Certificate of proficiencty in insurance. He's also the lead financial consultant.