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Free Texting Apps Have Become a Way of Life

Free Texting Apps Have Become a Way of Life

As much as we bemoan the impersonal nature of texting, I’m not canceling my unlimited texting plan with my mobile phone provider anytime soon inspite of having several free texting apps on my phone.

We all love text messaging because it’s convenient and quiet. We can be as active or passive a communicator as we wish to be — responding immediately or letting it go for a few hours (or days).  We are limited by our ability to type (or tap, rather), but no problem — we have become adept at abbreviations and the particular if not peculiar ‘language’ of this private chatting.

Free texting apps that are out there

Earlier in 2014, a study commissioned by consulting firm Deloitte found that text messaging has actually declined.  Texts from cell-phone users in the U.K. fell by 7 billion from 2013, to 145 billion.  This may seem surprising, but it’s not for lack of use:  free texting apps like WhatsApp, Viber, and WeChat have taken up the shortfall.  According to Deloitte, instant messages through these free texting apps rose to 160 billion.

Indeed, the potential for free texting apps can easily be demonstrated via the $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp by Facebook in February 2014.  Yes, that’s $19 billion.

At the time the deal was announced, Facebook noted that the messaging volume of WhatsApp was approaching the SMS volume of the entire global telecom industry — and that it was adding 1 million users a day.

Third-party messaging apps make sense in the growing global nature of communications.  Text messaging plans — sending and receiving — work well when communicating with someone who also resides within the same country.  But texting internationally?  The rates are astronomical.  As such, a solution to texting outside a country’s borders was needed with these free texting apps.

Twitter entered the texting game — sort of.  One of Twitter’s secret hacks has been the Direct Message.  I follow you, you follow me, and then we can send each other unlimited 140-character direct messages.  We can include hashtags, call out other users with the @ symbol, and even include shortened links.  Pretty nifty — but Twitter never really promoted the service as an alternative to text messaging — perhaps to stave off the mobile communications providers, who are already displeased that consumers were finding workarounds.

Beyond Twitter, we have come to expect short messaging as a feature in most apps — whether it makes sense or not.  Too many free texting apps obviously creates overload, especially in an app that we don’t necessarily open every day.  Popular mobile game Words with Friends, published by Zynga, includes messaging.  Cute — but inconvenient in the long run.  What happens when I stop playing? Perhaps I will look into making money online instead:)

Beware:  these free texting apps will soon not be free.  I just paid $0.99 to continue access to WhatsApp.  Not a whole lot, but with WhatsApp’s millions of monthly active users (now surpassed 700M), the owner Facebook clearly has an eye on revenue.

It made all the sense in the world to have it in PurpleSlate

We decided to include a messaging feature in PurpleSlate to enhance the functionality of the app.  It follows logically that creating invitations and communicating with guests necessitates the need for a short messaging service.  We felt it would be inconvenient and counterintuitive  to have our users learn about an upcoming event planned by a friend, exit the app, launch their phone’s text messaging service or a third-party app like WhatsApp, and send a message — while toggling back and forth with PurpleSlate to discuss event details.  We sought a seamless, intuitive experience, and we are happy to bring this functionality to our users.

As such, we can continue and enjoy the tradition of texting our friends and loved ones.



Posted by Jake Wengroff on March 10, 2015.

Jake WengroffI have served as the Founding Chairman of the Social Media Strategies Summit, and have written for publications such as and InformationWeek. I have been quoted in Time, Reuters, Bloomberg, and other publications on the topics of social media and marketing. If you enjoyed reading this post, join our email list to get free email updates.

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