An Analysys Mason report says 18–34 year olds are the heaviest users of messaging with more than 40 percent consuming IP-based messaging but only 20 percent of those aged 65 and over do so.
SMS usage persists among 91 percent of 18–34 year olds but only 67 percent of those aged 65 and over use the service.
In the UK alone, 53 percent of 18–24 year olds consume IP-based messaging services, ranking it third behind Germany and Spain respectively in terms of messaging penetration by age and country.
VoIP usage remains relatively limited and its even distribution across countries suggests that the conditions for mass-market adoption on smartphones do not currently exist.
However, broken down by age, VoIP services are most popular with the youngest age group – more than one in ten of those under the age of 35 use a VoIP service.
Operators will note that despite the penetration of IP-based alternatives, full messaging service substitution has not yet occurred. Operators should continue to embed the use of SMS in customers’ behavior, particularly with younger users, by offering unlimited messaging plans.
Stephen Sale, principal analyst for the Voice and Messaging research program, said: “However, such initiatives should be undertaken alongside a review of the messaging feature set and any related initiatives such as RCS or telco OTT services.”
The report says smartphone owners under the age of 35 have vastly different usage patterns and attitudes towards mobile voice and messaging services in comparison with the rest of the population.
The 18–24 and 25–34 year old age groups have contrasting approaches compared with older smartphone users, particularly in relation to VoIP, IP messaging and social media services such as Skype, WhatsApp Messenger and Facebook, as well as the criteria for choosing their next mobile service.
The high penetration of data services within the 18–34 age range represents a step change in the values of the younger generation, which has serious implications for how mobile operators price, segment and market their services.
The report covered 6,610 consumers aged 18+ in France, Germany, Poland, Spain, the U.K. and U.S.
The report says the low penetration rates of VoIP services favor operators, but they cannot afford to be complacent.
The market research agency says that following on from Skype, Facebook and Google are making advances in this area, and Microsoft is also expected to make aggressive moves in this area later this year. Operators must ensure they are proactive with changes to pricing structures and the core feature set.