Here’s to the earliest form of Social Media. Text messaging or SMS. It was on December 3, 1992 that Vodafone sent the very first text message/SMS. According to Wikipedia,
“The first SMS message was sent over the Vodafone GSM network in the United Kingdom on 3 December 1992, from Neil Papworth of Sema Group (now Mavenir Systems) using a personal computer to Richard Jarvis of Vodafone using an Orbitel 901 handset. The text of the message was “Merry Christmas.”
Even though the concept started since 1980 it was not until 1993 that SMS was commercially available in Finland. Not all phones in 1993 could accommodate SMS over GSM and it was only Nokia who had handsets that was capable of allowing users to send SMS. Furthermore, operators were slow to implement the system. Billing was also a problem but over time these issues were solved.
The number of text messages/SMS sent during the early stages of its implementation, “…customers in 1995 sending on average only 0.4 messages per GSM customer per month.” Last year, the estimated volume of text messages/SMS sent was 6.1 trillion or 192, 000 SMS per second. Since 2006, SMS’s worth has been netted at around $81 billion.
Despite being very successful, SMS services over GSM still faces challenges globally. Security and vulnerability has been one of the major issues of SMS. One other thing is its unreliability, especially when the service is used for emergency purposes. Studies have shown that around 1% to 5% are lost in the system never to be received by the recipient. Late SMS/text messages have also been one of its weak points. But despite all these, SMS/text message has always been the most preferred mode of communication especially in third world countries. Its being cheap has been the main reason for its popularity.
It would be hard to imagine to live today without SMS. Before, we really had to use landline phones to communicate and phone bills are just one of its disadvantages we had to face using using it. Now, almost every person I know can be reached via SMS. The craze over SMS may have already faded because it is already a norm in society to send text messages/SMS. Its availability almost knows no boundaries and because of that it has already been a part of our life.
Someday, I hope SMS would become more cheaper, especially when sending text messages from one network to another and from one country to another. The mere fact that SMS does not occupy much system resources should be good enough for mobile operators to consider lowering the price per SMS. If this happens the world would be much more closer. Yes, I know that many of people have turned to the internet for communication but SMS still has that simplicity that data services have a hard time beating. By the way, your cell phone batteries would last a lot longer than data services. Cheers to the 19th birthday of the first SMS. Merry Christmas!