Happy 23rd Birthday, SMS


Happy 23rd Birthday, SMS

Neil Papworth introduced SMS to the world on December 3, 1992.

It was exactly 23 years ago to the day when the first-ever text message was sent. Neil Papworth, a software engineer sent the message to a colleague at Vodafone. It read simply, “Merry Christmas.”

Quadrillions of SMS messages later, SMS has become a worldwide tech staple, a technology that’s transformed P2P (person-to-person) and A2P (application-to-person) communication worldwide.

Back in 2013 Deloitte revealed that text message volumes had fallen for the first time from 152bn in 2012 to 145bn in 2013. That signalled many an ill-informed industry pundit to decry the end of messaging as new OTT platforms imessage, whatsapp, Viber etc. gained traction.

Yet, a recent report by Transparency Market on A2P messaging indicates that the global A2P SMS market will reach $70.32 billion in 2020 from $53.07 billion in 2013.

So why are people still using SMS?

Typical uses for A2P SMS include two-factor authentication codes, delivery notifications, journey updates, payment confirmations, marketing, etc.

The technology for sending and receiving SMS is not reliant on an internet connection — it’s always available as long users have a mobile phone. When it comes to getting your message across, SMS consistently performs and has the highest engagement rate in comparison to over-the-top messaging and email. This report from SinglePoint for example indicates that SMS has a 99 per cent open rate and that 90 per cent of all messages are read within three minutes of being received.

And, it’s a ubiquitous communication channel — there are no barriers to entry, such as having to download an app or owning a smartphone. SMS may be seen as ancient technology but it is still continuing to grow. Many of the new breed of disruptive companies are reliant on SMS. Take Uber and Airbnb for example, text messages to let customers know that their taxi has arrived or their accommodation is booked, play a pivotal role in their on-going success. SMS is in every sense mission critical to these services.

Businesses are continuing to transform the way they use SMS — it won’t be disappearing any time soon.

So on this milestone day: Happy Birthday, SMS!