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25 years of the SMS: Does it have a future?

Deccan Chronicle 2017-12-04 20:46:00

SMS has been responsible for revolutionizing the way we communicate with our peers. If you want to simply send information to your contact, all you need to do is fire up the SMS app, type your message in brief and tap the ‘Send’ button. Now, SMS is celebrating 25 years of its existence, looking back at the first one sent on 3rd December 1992.

Neil Papworth in 1992 created history when he typed the world’s first SMS and sent it to Vodafone’s Richard Jarvis. The message that he sent read — ‘Merry Christmas’. Unfortunately, technology wasn’t as evolved as it is in 2017, which is why Jarvis couldn’t reply to the message due to the lack of a texting-supported keyboard.


These days, SMS is considered one of the lifelines for communicating on the move. There are billions of messages sent across each day, most them being promotions from telemarketers. In fact, certain verification systems for financial institutions rely on SMS as one of the most secure ways to carry on transactions without letting any intruder mess around. Some fields, such as airlines and railways, are promoting the idea of being ‘ecofriendly’ by encouraging travellers to rely on SMS-based tickets instead of printed ones.

However, while SMS is key to most of the scenarios in our lives, it is in the process of getting quickly overshadowed by its much-evolved cousin — instant messengers. Internet-based messaging apps such as WhatsApp and WeChat have taken the world by storm. Majority of smartphone users rely on these services to stay in touch as they allow for more creative ways (emojis, messages, videos, GIFs and more) to express their message in the quickest of ways. In fact, instant messenger services are partly responsible for driving sales in the smartphone industry. Certain ticket booking vendors have slowly started adopting WhatsApp for sending ticket itinerary to customers. Some banks have even started organizing UPI payments through WhatsApp. On the contrary, SMS has only remained just another way for receiving spam ads and One Time Passwords (OTP) verification codes.

Therefore, 25 years from now, the SMS as a platform needs to evolve in order to keep up with the new kids on the block. Both software vendors, as well as service providers, should work in tandem to evolve SMS into a modern-day communication platform instead of leaving it as one gathering spam messages.