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Mobile apps chip away at SMS (2)

By Chen Limin and Shen Jingting  (China Daily)

09:01, January 29, 2013

From 2000 to 2008, the volume of text messages over the network of China Mobile Ltd, the nation's biggest telecom carrier, rose to 607 billion from 500 million.

However, the rapid growth has dramatically slowed in recent years. The number of text messages sent via the China Mobile network reached 736 billion in 2011, with only a small year-on-year increase.

China Mobile's revenue from its text messaging service fell to 46.5 billion yuan ($7.3 billion) in 2011 from a peak of 53.6 billion yuan in 2009.

Li Ruiru, a 23-year-old employee of an travel agency in Guangdong province, said she sends fewer than 100 text messages a month, compared with about 200 in the past, after she became a big fan of WeChat. Her father, who is 62, however, said that WeChat doesn't have a big influence on the number of text messages he sends because he doesn't use the service frequently.

Chen Zhengyu, a stock analyst with China Merchants Securities (HK) Co Ltd, said: "For older people, it's more difficult to rely on mobile Internet services like WeChat. It's the opposite for younger people, most of whom have an account to use Tencent's services."

Shen at Gartner added that text messages sent by individual consumers have declined, but messages from companies and organizations, are still on the rise.

"Overall, China's short message market has reached a plateau," Shen said.

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