Informa's research was commissioned by the Financial Times.
Informa estimated that by 2014, the gap between chat applications and SMS messages will widen considerably, with 21 billion text messages seen daily, vs. nearly 50 billion app-based messages. The good news is that 21 billion SMS messages is still higher than 2012. The bad news is obvious.
The bad news isn't even complete. There are plenty of other third-party chat applications, which were not included in Informa's study. Examples include Trillian, which works with desktop chat services such as AIM, Yahoo Messenger, Google Talk, and others, and Facebook Messenger.
The negative to all these is that none of them are compatible with each other. You can't install WhatsApp and chat to someone on Nimbuzz. You can, of course, use Trillian and chat with someone on IMO, since both of those clients work with existing third-party services.
In addition, Apple's iMessage app will use SMS if necessary -- in order words, if the recipient is not an iMessage user. Google Voice can send a text message -- using the data channel - from an app, as well.
It's for that reason that emergency service personnel have previously told the public that the best method of communication after -- or during -- an emergency, is SMS, not voice calling and definitely not data calls (such as using a data-based app like these chat clients).
The question is, do carriers lose money on these deals. The short answer is yes. However, carriers can build packages around third-party apps. As an example, WhatsApp has partnerships with the carriers RCom and 3 Hong Kong, which sell flat-rate bundles specifically for WhatsApp use while at home or roaming.
Indeed, it's not a net neutral-type of program, but it's a way for carriers to make up for the lost revenue from fewer text messages.