The social messaging market is rapidly evolving and expanding as messaging players begin to amass hundreds of millions of users.
In 2014, social media analyst firm Ovum expects to see further acceleration in user growth, together with a widening in the scope of social messaging services.
More interestingly, in 2014 Ovum expects to see social messaging players challenging the status quo of mobile social networking and media and creating a paradigm shift in social media that will impact several OTT giants.
According to Ovum’s latest Social Messaging 2014 Trends to Watch report, services such as Line and WhatsApp are mobile first services and are changing the way the consumer interacts with social media – be it messaging, voice, games or utilities and widening the possibilities of the type of social services that can be accessed on mobile.
Neha Dharia, Analyst, Consumer Telecoms and author of the report believes social media as an industry is undergoing a major transition, one of the key drivers of which is the rapid proliferation of social messaging services.
"Social messaging apps are mobile centric services are intuitive and viral in growth have the ability to reach a wider audience," Dharia says.
"As new services get added on to messaging apps, we can expect these services to evolve into mobile media platforms which large user bases.
“In addition, we expect social messaging to slowly but surely start to generate revenues, which will assist in the evolution of social messaging players’ offerings from messaging apps to holistic mobile media platforms."
Dharia believes this shift has been driven mainly by mobile-first services due to more consumer accessing social services through mobile devices. The mobile internet used on variety of mobile devices is rapidly taking off in developed and emerging markets alike and will form the basis of the internet in the future.
“There is an increasing shift to mobile devices on either side of the development process and there is no doubt that mobile-first services make fuller use of the advantages of mobile than services that are ported from the PC to mobile," Dharia adds.
So much so that Dharia predicts social messaging players will trial services that move well beyond communications, including games, payments, information services and utilities.
Social messaging apps will also continue to evolve into mobile media platforms in their own right, using mobile technology to create contextual services for consumers.
“The rise of this new breed of mobile-focused, messaging-centric OTT players will be the driving force behind the changes in social networking and media services," Dharia adds.
"By 2014 users will no longer need to access services only through a social network rather they will be able to access a service on its own.
"This service will then be connected by several channels to social networks, social media and other consumer services.
"What was once a horizontal service platform will have evolved into the glue holding several consumer services together."
Social Messaging 2014 Trends-to-Watch:
• A new wave of OTT players will hit the market in 2014
• Expect a fundamental shift in social networking services
• Social messaging will start to generate revenues
• Messaging will evolve beyond text