Commentary

Why Facebook Is Revisiting SMS

Likely inspired by the popularity of WhatsApp and Google Hangouts, Facebook is taking a fresh look at SMS messaging.

The social giant ditched SMS in late 2013 on its popular Messenger service, because it didn’t think users were that into it. Since then, it has invested a ton of development resources in its core instant messaging service.

Now, however -- as Android Police first reported and as Facebook has since confirmed -- select members are being invited to use Messenger as their SMS client. 

Unlike Google Hangouts, Facebook Messenger is not currently offering a dual client experience. In other words, users can’t yet combine instant messaging and text messaging. Whether or not Facebook plans to stick with this differentiating point remains to be seen.

Regardless, the fact is that text messaging has experienced a sort of renaissance in recent years. Hardly missing the boat, Facebook bought a first-class ticket in late 2014 when it dropped about $20 billion on WhatsApp.

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Since then, the app’s popularity has soared. In fact, it just surpassed 1 billion monthly active users, and is presently processing 42 billion messages a day, including 1.6 photos and 250 million videos.

Today, thanks to significant reach in more than 20 countries, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger stand alone as “global powerhouse" apps, according to eMarketer.

By 2018, the number of messaging app users worldwide will reach 2 billion, representing 80% of smartphone users, eMarketer expects.

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