Happy 20th Birthday to SMS
By Optism Team, Dec 7, 2012
On Tuesday, we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the first SMS message sent by Neil Papworth of Sema Group who texted “Merry Christmas” to Richard Jarvis of Vodafone over Vodafone's GSM Network. It was a truly momentous occasion as over the past two decades, texting has exploded, evolving into one of the most popular and effective means of marketing.
The growth of SMS was slow due to technological factors, lack of cooperation between carriers and a scarcity of mobile phone users. Other players in the SMS space during the early years included Telia Sonera Sweden which was the first company to offer network-based SMS and Radiolinja Finland which was the first company to offer person to person SMS. It wasn't until the late 1990's that operators implemented cooperation agreements to deliver texts originating from another carrier.
By 2002, we were sending 250 billion SMS messages annually. This will swell to estimated 6.7 trillion texts that will be sent in 2012. Globally, there is still tremendous growth for SMS — on the range of 13% a year, so it is estimated that 9 trillion texts will be send in 2016. However after 20 years of strong growth, there are chinks in its armor. Some countries are recording their first ever drop in texts. In England, the number of texts dropped from 39.7 billion in 2011 to an expected 38.5 billion in 2012. Other countries facing drops in SMS messaging include Netherlands, Spain, China, South Korea and the Philippines.
The growth of texting was led by the youth who quickly realized that texting was much cheaper than voice calling. The average US teenager sends around 50-100 texts a day or roughly 25,000 texts a year while other mobile phone users have yet to send their first text. Texting brought acronyms into the popular lexicon, as most people are quite familiar with LOL, ROTFL and OMG. Mobile marketing has been quick to tap into this young and global audience that does not use as much traditional media as older generations. Optism have been focused on using SMS together with permission-based marketing to successfully deliver high response rate campaigns to our global customers.
SMS has become a critical service for geographic areas without an extensive landline communication infrastructure. Many countries rely on SMS as the primary service to provide mobile banking, mobile payments, government alerts and safety notifications. And, when used properly, it’s still one of the most effective channels for providing timely information on products, services and deals and coupons.
As smartphones proliferate — bringing with them new mobile apps that provide new ways to communicate, SMS will eventually decline in popularity. But until then happy birthday and good luck on another 20 years.
BTW, SMS is still the GR8ST!