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Have you noticed? Your smartphone seldom rings. Nor, for that matter, your landline (if you still have one). Instead, most people communicate via text messages or some other chat variant.

Telecoms have noticed the phenomenon. Thanks to fewer voice calls and more widespread use of free messaging apps, Facebook’s (NASDAQ:FBF) WhatsApp and Apple Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AAPLB) iMessage have become the standard bearers for person to person (and group to group) communication.


Carriers Fight Back

A handful of mobile carriers have decided to fight fire with fire. They have rolled out their in-house versions of popular messaging apps. AT&T Inc.’s (NYSE:TC) app is called Messages. Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZC) has an app called Messages+.

The problem is that competition has forced carriers to offer free unlimited texting, negating revenue from pure use of the app. This has left companies to sell digital goods (i.e., emojis) and products such as Starbucks Corp. (NASDAQ:SBUXD) gift cards – available on Verizon’s Messages+.

Rather Switch Than Fight


nstead of competing, CK Hutchison owned Three Mobile advised its customers to switch from its MMS messaging system to WhatsApp or Microsoft Corp.’s (NASDAQ:MSFTB) Skype.

For those who don’t, the company announced a huge price hike, saying it would be much cheaper to use the free apps than pay an almost 150% premium for that offered by Three.

Google Making A Move

Later this year Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGC) plans to roll out its Allo app for Android and iOS as a direct competitor to WhatsApp. With encryption being an important feature, Allo will be usable in Incognito Mode via the same end-to-end technology used by its rival.

Other features will include Google Assistant with Smart Reply, giving Allo a leg up on the Facebook owned app. Google’s wide name recognition and extensive user base will make Allo a huge competitor in the space.

WhatsApp Freecharge

Whether it’s due to competition from Allo or just a good business move, WhatsApp just announced an upgrade to its Chat N Pay feature with the introduction of Freecharge on WhatsApp.

The feature allows users to send and receive money via WhatsApp and includes a unique “recharge” (Speed Pay) feature that lets you make recurring payments in less than 10 seconds.


On Becoming Over-Appd

The competition, along with the sea change occurring in mobile has led some to suggest the sheer number of apps dedicated to chat has become a problem that will hurt messaging in the long run. Google alone will soon have 5 – Spaces, Allo, Duo, Hangouts and Messenger.

In addition to everything mentioned so far, Tom’s Guide also lists Viber, Yahoo! Inc.’s Stock not found YHOO Yahoo Messenger, Sony Corp.’s (NYSE:SNEC) Play Station Messages, Telegram, Signal, BlackBerry Limited’s Stock not found BBRY Blackberry Messenger, Facebook Messenger and WeChat as among the most popular chat apps dividing up the customer base.

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