LYNN NEARY, HOST:
If you have teenagers in your house, you may find this hard to believe, but texting - at least the kind you do through your cellphone provider - is on the decline. This news comes from the British consulting firm Deloitte, which reported that the number of texts sent in Britain last year decreased by seven billion. Of course, that doesn't mean we are retreating to snail mail or even email. And don't think for a minute that anyone is abandoning texting language - those lovely acronyms like OMG and LOL. No, of course not. And here to tell us what is replacing good old-fashioned texting is David Gerzof Richard, a professor of digital media and marketing at Emerson College in Boston. Good to have you with us, David.
DAVID GERZOF RICHARD: Always good to be with you.
NEARY: Now, according to Deloitte's technology predictions report, there were 160 billion instant messages sent in the U.K. last year, and that's compared to only 145 billion texts. Now, that is still an awful lot of texts, but can you explain why there has been such a drop? I mean, is it more expensive to text?
RICHARD: It depends on what network you're on, and what country you're in. The cellphone products, the service products that companies offer sometimes include text messaging and sometimes they don't. And if they don't, then they charge for it. So, what people have been doing in cases where they are being billed for the texts that they're sending, they're moving over to apps, apps on smartphones.
NEARY: OK. So, apps like what? Like Facebook and Snapchat? Is that what we're talking about?
RICHARD: So, Snapchat, Facebook would be two of them. Some of the most popular ones are an app called WhatsApp or a Chinese program called WeChat. And between Apple's iMessage, WhatsApp and WeChat, they're sending 50 billion messages globally each day.
NEARY: OK. And what's better for people? Why is it better for people to use those apps?
RICHARD: Well, there's a couple of reasons. One is it's free. You're using the data portion of your cellphone plan, so it doesn't cost you anything to send a text over there. And there's a lot more sort of multimedia richness that can be built in. You can have these chats with all kinds of friends from all over the place based on a user ID, not a cellphone number. And there's all kinds of interesting things that can be added into this.
NEARY: So, they really are still texting, just using a different means, right?
RICHARD: Yeah. So, the texting language is still being used. It's just instead of going over the traditional cellphone networks through the texting app that's built into your phone when you get it from the store, you're using an app you're downloading through, say, the Apple App Store and using that to be able to connect with your friends.
NEARY: David Gerzof Richard is a professor of digital media and marketing at Emerson College. Thanks for being with us, Professor Richard.
RICHARD: Always good to be with you.
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NEARY: This is NPR News.