The Evolution of Messaging


To understand how messaging became a $250 billion industry, I think it’s important to consider where it has come from and what makes it so popular.

📞 let’s reminisce…  

So, cast your minds back to 1992, when Right Said Fred was in the charts. This is the year that the first text message or SMS (short message service) was sent. The message read ‘Merry Christmas’.

The following year, in 1993, Nokia introduced the first mobile phone compatible with text messaging. The invention of T9 (Text on 9 Keys) made texting possible, as it enabled people to type on fewer keys than the traditional Qwerty keyboard. By 1995 T9 technology became predictive, further simplifying texting and helping it to become mainstream. And in 1997 the first picture message was sent – a picture of a newborn baby in a delivery suite. Ahh.

It’s hard to believe now, but at this time it was still only possible to text people on the same network. It took until 1999 before people could text across networks!

Texting first faced major disruption in 2004 when ‘The Facebook’ was launched.  By 2007 the first Apple iPhone was released and the app store was created. This meant that developers had their first opportunity to write apps that would sit on the phone and would not rely on carriers, because it worked on Wi-Fi.

Chat app messaging grew quickly from this point, with the launch of WhatsApp in 2009, the introduction of the emoji generation in 2010, and Facebook messenger app (which now boasts 1 billion users) spinning off from Facebook in 2011.

By 2012 chat app messages over took text, with 19bn chat app messages versus 17.6bn SMS messages sent every day. Disrupting telecoms revenue to the tune of £100bn!

When Facebook bought WhatsApp in 2014, they took over global domination of the messaging market, with apps Facebook, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.

💖 how popular is messaging?

The average person has three messaging apps on their phone home screen, uses three different messaging apps per week and sends three messages per hour! Wow!

Source: Twilio

💊 why is messaging so popular?

1) it’s convenient

Unlike other message services like msn you don’t need both the sender and the recipient to be available to send messages. And, let’s face it, it’s faster and requires less niceties than a phone call.

2) rich in functionality

Messaging is no longer just about text. Features have evolved to include voice calling, location sharing, gif images, tagging people and status updates.

3) it’s addictive

Ironically, while you don’t need to constantly be online and available to message, 90% of messages are replied to in 3 minutes.  That’s because message notifications have the same impact on brain as cocaine – Dopamine!

The addictiveness of messaging is something that society and workplaces need to consider. Responding to messages so quickly means that people are distracted. People are constantly shifting context as they are bombarded by different messages, in different forms. Whether you’re a kid doing homework or a millennial in the office, messages can be a productivity killer.

So, if you ever find yourself waiting for me to respond to your message, please be patient. I’m just trying not to be distracted!

🤳 messaging has overtaken social!

In 2016 messaging overtook social media for the first time. People use social and messaging platforms very differently. People will linger on social for a longer period of time, while they dip in and out of messaging. However, people use messaging so frequently that the overall time spent messaging is longer.

Messaging is a global tool, but that doesn’t mean that all countries use messaging in the same way or to the same volume. In South Korea for example people prefer to message than email or phone combined.

Messaging has become an enormous landgrab, and unsurprisingly Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is leading the charge as he sees messages and stories as the future, rather than Facebook’s News Feed.

Facebook dominates the globe with Facebook, Messenger and WhatsApp. However, in Japan Line is the favourite messaging tool and in China it’s the lesser known giant WeChat.

WeChat is the most advanced messaging app of all. It makes more money per user than any of the others combined. Here are some WeChat facts for you:

  • It has 900 million daily active users in China
  • 30% mobile commerce occurs in WeChat
  • 98% of 50-80 year olds use WeChat
  • 3000 offline businesses take payment through WeChat.

WeChat had to develop many of its own features such as shop, search, and their own version of Appstore, which has 1 million programmes (their version of apps), because China hasn’t had the same internet access.

The West is now trying to copy WeChat.

☕ the future of messaging…

In my next blog post I will share my predictions for the future of messaging; from the features it offers, to the uses in business, the competitive landscape and the technologies involved.

At huggg, we plan to be part of the messaging evolution and disrupt the 250+ billion dollar messaging industry, by adding real products into everyday communications. You can now attach a coffee, cake or cinema ticket to a message with huggg, which means you just paid for your employee, customer or friend to walk next door and enjoy the real thing.


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