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Published on January 23rd, 2013 | by Guest Writer

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SMS Messages Celebrate 20 Years as Footprint Dwindles

It was 3 December 1992 when the very first Short Message Service (SMS) text message was sent between mobile phones. Now 20 years later, the SMS faces dwindling popularity among mobile device users as advancing technologies and options provide people with a number of different venues to stay in touch while on the go.

The very first text message was reportedly sent back in 1992 when a 22-year old British engineer sent a text message reading “Merry Christmas” from his Vodafone device on the UK network to an Orbitel 901 mobile phone. It was not until the next year, 1993, that the first commercial SMS service was launched in Sweden. Also that year, SMS services were launched in the UK and US with Nokia claiming to sell the first SMS enabled GSM mobile devices. According to the manufacturer, the Nokia 2110 was the first such device although its predecessor the Nokia 1110 was also capable of SMS messaging.

When SMS messaging first emerged in the early 90s, it was viewed by many tech savvy individuals and companies as a mere perk or add-on to the emerging mobile phone sector. As their popularity grew, mobile devices began to adopt SMS capabilities more and more. The advent of smartphones in the 21st century boosted SMS messaging further with bigger screens and full keyboards, but also brought about its downfall.

While more and more people adopted texting with the advent of smartphones, the development of apps devoted to those devices and the increasing cost of messaging and data plans has combined to lead to decreasing popularity in SMS messaging.

Recent data has shown that SMS messaging experienced two straight quarters of declining use in 2012, posting a drop in the billions. Based upon data from the UK, the information showed that SMS messaging appears to have peaked at 39.7 billion in 2011. Data for 2012 shows a drop down to 38.5 billion. The trend is similar across the pond in the US, the world’s largest mobile device market.

No one could have foreseen the rise to prominence of SMS messaging, and in reality 20 years on top in the world of technology is an impressive feat in an era where technology changes almost overnight. While mobile device users are communicating through their devices now more than ever, it is hard to predict the future of SMS messaging.

Apps for social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, and devoted texting apps for iOS and Android devices offer mobile customers variety when it comes to communicating on the go. Don’t expect to see SMS messaging disappear entirely, but the height of its popularity has come and gone. SMS messaging should be admired for the length of time is spent on top, but the writing is on the wall for its future.

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Laura has been texting for as long as she can remember and with free texts available from her preferred phone network, she has never been happier.

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