While text messaging may not be as popular as it was in at its peak in 2012, it remains a valuable way to communicate with a wide range of people, as it’s widely available on virtually all phones. In addition, because it’s a mature technology, it’s also extremely stable, requiring a simple interface that hasn’t changed for years. This makes it ideal for application-to-person (A2P) use.
Introduction of SMS
The first SMS was arguably sent by Neil Papworth in 1992, who sent the message from a PC to a phone. From a theoretical technical quirk, this technology grew in popularity dramatically once phones were created that took advantage of it, thanks to the ease and relative brevity of communication it offered. In 2011, more than 2 trillion texts were sent in the United States alone.
SMS Use Since 2004
As cellphones and smartphones have become more widely adopted by the general population, the use of text messages to communicate has exploded. In 2004, approximately 56 billion texts were sent in the United States, and in the United Kingdom, that figure was 27 billion. As cellphone adoption became more widespread, these figures grew to 2.4 trillion text messages in the United States in 2011 and 172 billion in United Kingdom in 2012 [Source].
However, the growing use of smartphones and the connectivity that they offered across multiple platforms started to cut into the overall volume of text messages, primarily due to Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and other OTT messaging platforms gradually increasing market share over “traditional” text messaging. This led to some commentators loudly announcing that SMS is dead.
This proclamation, however, seems rather premature. Although these technologies have reduced the use of SMS from a person-to-person perspective, the relative security of a phone (limited to a single handset rather than across multiple platforms) makes it ideal for receiving user-specific information from businesses or from individual devices that are part of the Internet of Things.
The Internet of Things
Articles on what was often called the information superhighway as far back as 1994 described a world in which everything was interconnected by the Internet, yet it has taken nearly two decades for that concept to be realised. The key hurdle was the availability of information — vast mobile networks were not particularly common, and they certainly weren’t capable of handling the data volumes required. Consumers were still limited to dial-up modems, which meant that the per-unit cost of data was extremely high.