Social messaging apps cost mobile companies $14 billion

If you used Google Talk, Facebook Chat, imo, or any other data-based social messaging platform on your phone, congratulations. You helps reduce the pockets of mobile providers by nearly $14 billion. That's the number that analytics group Ovum came up with, saying the rise of instant messaging apps is killing what is one of the highest margin line items on any cell phone bill. And it isn't just text messaging. New apps that allow users to place calls without using any plan minutes are also on the rise.

According to Ovum, Skype was the primary player in that segment. It accounted for 79% of all mobile-connected voice-over IP (VoIP) bandwidth. The next closest competitor was Windows Live, with only 3%. Viber, a still-nascent VoIP platform, managed to score 2% and take the spot at third most widely used mobile VoIP service. At this point, though, it's really those messaging apps that are giving headaches to the major carriers.

And in that category, you might be surprised to know that Facebook Chat was the most popular mobile chat service in 2011, taking in 22% of all mobile broadband that was attributed to messaging. Then again, that could just mean Facebook Chat is a data hop. Another largely unknown player, Whatsapp, makes an entry in this category in the #2 spot, taking 18% of the market. Yahoo Messenger and Windows Live take the #3 and #4 ranks, respectively, followed by QQ at 8%.

[via GigaOM]