LONDON, April 29 (UPI) -- Messaging apps for smartphones have overtaken traditional text messaging for the first time, Swiss research firm Informa reports.
Apps such as WhatsApp and other instant messaging applications that use a smartphone's mobile data connection to share messages have surpassed traditional SMS (short message service) text numbers, the firm said.
Nearly 19 billion messages were sent per day on such apps in 2012, compared with 17.6 billion SMS texts, Informa said.
Analysts say the shift is having an economic impact on mobile operators, for whom SMS texts have been a key revenue source.
More than $23 billion of SMS revenue was lost in 2012 due to popularity of instant messaging apps, British research company Ovum reported.
SMS will remain relevant, Informa's Pamela Clark-Dickson said, for users in emerging and lesser-developed economies who use normal feature phones rather than smartphones.
"They don't have mobile data plans, so there is an awfully big base of mobile phone users who are going to still find that SMS is the best messaging experience for them for a while," she told the BBC.