The year was 1992. The Mall of America opened its doors for the first time, Bill Clinton was elected US President, Euro Disney opened in France and the very first SMS text message was sent. With the simple words “Merry Christmas,” mobile telephony was revolutionized.
While having the ability to make phone calls is a necessity, depending on the situation it can also be viewed as inconvenient and invasive. So also having the ability to send text messages has its appeal as it can be done at any time, from anywhere and at the sender’s leisure.
Take for example, Millennials, they tend to prefer texting over calling. Our studies have shown that text messaging is the most important use of the phone for that particular group (with “voice calls” following close behind).
The death of text messaging was greatly exaggerated
While trends in mobile have changed dramatically over the years, text messages have remained important. So important, that according to Statistics Brain, in June of 2017 a whopping 781 billion text messages were sent and received in the US alone.
Still, not all is quiet on the texting front.
For example, back in 2015, people sent three times as many messages via WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger as they did by SMS. That year, WhatsApp claimed to handle 30 billion messages daily by its 700 million users. Many thought that would mean the death of text messaging.
There was a clear appeal to messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Back when WhatsApp first entered the market, the costs to send text messages could add up quickly. Consumers had to count their words to make messages succinct and it would also cost more to send multimedia content such as pictures. WhatsApp lifted those limits, allowing people to text freely. As WhatsApp gained users, they would bring even more of their contacts into the app, creating an enormous network of people who could message each other without running out of their text allowance. Quickly, WhatsApp became relevant and ubiquitous in many markets.
Still, text messaging continues to matter. Why is that?
Text messaging is quick, convenient and safe; and nowadays, mobile contracts have far larger text messaging allowances at a far lower cost than before. This is why it has been adopted by many technology giants such as Google and Facebook, as well as major banks and more as a key method of providing two-factor authentication, helping increase online safety for users.
Thanks to that, text messaging is still relevant, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.
Happy silver anniversary, SMS! May you continue to make our lives easier for many years to come.