Is it the end of phone number ?

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With the arrival of the smartphone and social networks, the mobile world has changed. A lot of applications and new communication systems were born without the use of phone numbers.

 

How many times have you used Messenger, or any other platforms for that matter, instead of SMS(short messaging service) to contact someone because you were not sure that the person didn’t change their phone number ?

With the arrival of the digital identity, some applications, and especially communication services, we don’t need a phone number anymore.

The best example to illustrate that is Facebook, the creation of Messenger. Messenger allows you to chat with your Facebook contacts without having to use a phone number.

Nowadays, in our society, everyone is connected all around the world via the internet with a mobile phone number.

 

Moreover, with globalization, people are more subject to communicate with people from all around the world. However, communicating by SMS or calling abroad is very expensive, and it costs more if you don’t have an international phone package. Therefore, due to Facebook being free, messenger is also free and become a much better platform contacting people abroad. Maybe one day, phone companies will only sell internet network…

It’s difficult to measure the total number of messages all around the world, but by combining only between Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, the volume of messages sent every day reaches 60 billions. According to Mark Zuckerberg, this is three times more than the 20 billions SMS exchanged each day[1]. The SMS have became too restrictive for contemporary uses.  The other applications are updating continuously to offer additional functionality over time. The SMS are also outdated because they are less secure and not encrypted which makes them much less safe than Facebook Messenger or Whatsapp.

 

Skype is the one of the first companies in the communication market that does not need a phone number to use this service, just an email. Skype has more than 300 millions active users. People use Skype everyday for work or  private life.

After having seen Skype’s success, Apple followed suit with the iMessage for Apple products. You can send a text even with the Itouch (a portable music player), which just uses personalised Itunes log in details per device, or one’s email address.

* Country covered : USA, Bresil, China, Indonesia and South Africa [2]

Recently, the number of active users for Messenger has grown to 1 billion (July 2016). Since the start of production (October 2015), Messenger is now open to everyone. Any Facebook user will be able to contact another user for free via Messenger, simply by looking for his name in the database. Facebook is changing to a directory service. The receiver has to accept these messages, and if they do not accept them, no conversation will occur.

 

On the other hand, phone numbers are still being used in many cases. Obviously, not only to communicate, but also for security when completing online payment. In many cases, applications or operators will use your phone number to send you a SMS with a code to check the validity of the user. This system is also used by many banks to control transaction and the buyer identity.

Therefore for certain purpose, the telephone number is used as a method of security.

Following the Mobile World Congress, Google has signed an agreement with 19 mobile operators to set up a standard RCS (Rich Communication Services). Mobile operators should be able to offer their own standard messaging applications to design chat groups, send high-quality photos or obtain read-out confirmations.

The increasing use of WhatsApp (where you need a phone number), confirms this trend and shows  that the system has to change and the simple SMS service is outdated.

 

[1]http://www.clubic.com/telecharger/logiciel-messagerie-instantanee/actualite-802834-messenger-whatsapp-sms.html

[2]https://ondeviceresearch.com/blog/messenger-wars-how-facebook-lost-its-lead

A propos de Guillaume BAUDE

Etudiant dans le master 2 commerce électronique de l'université de Strasbourg

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