Is text messaging finally going out of fashion?

Is text messaging finally going out of fashion?

According to the latest research by independent mobile analyst Chetan Sharma published this week, mobile phone users sent an average of 678 messages a month during the third quarter of 2012, down from 696 a month in the previous quarter. But it's not because people have less to say to each other. On the contrary, data usage is continuing to grow and as more and more people trade in their feature phones for smartphones, the amount of text-based traffic is likely to increase but it will be split across email, social media and VoIP services such as Skype.

Data already accounts for 43 percent of mobile industry services and according to some US carriers, the average US smartphone user already gets through 900MB every month. What's more, smartphone penetration has passed the 50 percent mark in the US and smartphones sales accounted for 80 percent of all devices sold in the US in the quarter.

However, as for the death of text messaging, its decline could ultimately spell bad news for smartphone owners. Text messaging is a large income stream for wireless operators and if revenues start to fall then they will be forced to increase prices in other areas -- for instance on voice calls or on data plans -- in order to recoup the shortfall.