The first SMS message was sent nineteen years ago by Neil Papworth to Richard Jarvis on December 3, 1992. It read - Merry Christmas - and was sent using an Orbitel 901 handset and a personal computer. As with many new services texting had a slow start.
A decade later the popularity of SMS was spurred-on because many young people were already familiar with online chat. Thanks in part to price reductions and bundle deals the ubiquity of SMS rocketed, making it a cash cow for mobile operators throughout the world.
According to the latest report from Nielsen the average teen now sends and receives seven messages, for every hour that he or she is awake.
That’s a total of 3,417 messages a month. OMG!
When surveyed, the top three reasons teens said that they prefer messaging to calling was because it is faster (22 percent), easier (21 percent), and more fun (18 percent).
ABI Research anticipates 5 trillion SMS messages will be sent before the end of 2011. On an earlier post we stated Ovum Research forecast it to be even higher - 7.5 trillion. Regardless of the exact volume, a huge number of SMS are sent every year.
Some analysts claim there are signs in mature markets such as Western Europe – that volumes are in decline, and revenues might follow suit.
Most of them agree this phenomenon stems from the popularity of third-party messaging apps triggered by rising smartphone penetration.
As wonderful as these apps are did you use WhatsApp to send grandmother a photo from Christmas dinner last week? Will you log in to Skype at midnight to wish your friends and family a Happy New Years on Dec 31? And on Valentine’s Day how will you woo your nearest and dearest?
Data connections are growing in affordability and will soon become ubiquitous. This means messaging services (WhatsApp, Apple’s iMessage etc) will increase competition so there is a need to evolve from the limitations of SMS.
However, SMS will continue to rule the roost as long as it is provided at a price people are prepared to pay and can be used to reach almost everyone, at any time on almost every phone.
That’s why I’ll be communicating my best wishes by SMS this New Year’s Eve.
With millions of messages being sent during the festive season – I won’t be alone just yet.
The following graphic created by Tatango depicts the history of SMS over the last 19 years: