Our Wireless Media Lab team is undertaking focus groups and design ideation sessions this week in London on the subject of Enhanced Mobile Messaging. Listening to the discussion last night, what I found especially interesting was to hear the heavy messengers we had recruited explain why they use messaging applications such as WhatsApp, BBM and even basic SMS.
It seems that increasingly, messaging is not just about communicating information. The participants all said that the ability to communicate via sending pictures, links and voice attachments is becoming more and more important to them. Beyond this, they frequently told us that their messaging apps are an important way to keep up with what friends are doing and even a way to handle boredom by reviewing what others have sent or posted. To them, the lines between one-to-one and one-to-many messaging are becoming increasingly blurred.
When we asked these users to come up with new ideas for messaging services, many of their concepts expressed some key themes:
- the desire for more control over presence and status
- the ability to message via voice and switch between voice/text
- the desire for intelligence and context awareness (especially related to location), and
- the importance of small group communications (e.g. on the basis of shared interests with particular friends)
However, despite all of the advanced communications tools and capabilities that these consumers have at their fingertips, when asked which messaging service they would keep if they could choose only one, every person said SMS. Why? Because it is the only truly ubiquitous mobile messaging protocol – i.e. capable of reaching everyone.
Our report on the motivations, needs and behaviors of mobile messaging users will be available to Wireless Media Lab clients in due course.
- Kevin Nolan
Update: 3 October 2011 - The full report, Mobile Messaging: Consumer Behaviors around Text Messaging and Over-The-Top Messaging Applications, is now available for WML clients or to purchase. Paul Brown