Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) launched support for SMS within Messenger for Android, enabling users to send and receive traditional text messages without switching out of the app.
As TechCrunch reported, Facebook first integrated SMS into Messenger for Android in 2012 but dropped the feature the following year due to a lack of uptake. Earlier this year it started testing an updated offering that gives users the option to access SMS conversations within Messenger.
The feature is available only for Android users because Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) iOS doesn't support app permissions of accessing SMS, Facebook said. But users with Android for Messenger can use the feature to send SMS messages to recipients on any platform.
"Your SMS conversations will be in purple and your Messenger conversations will be in blue," the social network announced on its site. "SMS in Messenger supports standard text, images, videos, and audio, but also rich content like stickers, emojis, and location sharing. You'll have to use regular Messenger to send GIFs, send money, make voice and video calls, and request transportation."
Facebook clearly hopes to increase traffic on Messenger by making it easier for some of its users who still rely on SMS.
The move is just the latest threat to a dwindling market for carrier SMS services as the use of Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Line and many other messaging alternatives increases. The trend has a minimal impact on U.S. operators, which typically sell messages in monthly bulk packages, but SMS revenues in many overseas markets continue to suffer with the rise of such OTT offerings.
Juniper Research predicted in June 2015 that the worldwide messaging market will shrink by $600 million from 2014 to 2019 even as traffic doubles during that period. The revenue generated from each OTT message will be less than 1 percent of SMS and MMS missives in 2019, according to Juniper.
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