Blog Post

All Hail The SMS

[qi:83] Short message service (SMS), aka text messaging, contrary to rumors of its pending demise and thanks to its relative simplicity and ease of use, keeps on growing in popularity. In fact, SMS usage keeps growing even despite the high tariffs imposed by carriers around the world. Paul Ruppert, a veteran of mobile business and now a consultant, notes that every year, 2.1 billion global mobile users send 3 trillion SMS messages.

Even in markets like the U.S., which lagged in embracing the ease and power of texting and seemingly preferred email and Instant Messaging, text messaging has become an intimate aspect of daily lives, especially for those 15 to 25.

And as SMS-over-IP technologies get further traction, SMS usage will not only continue to grow, but could very well end up being the glue that brings together our disparate means of communication. (Related Post: 7 ways to text message for productivity.)
We are beginning to see commonly used communications applications embedding direct-to-SMS functionality. Take, for example, the new Yahoo Mail unveiled earlier today, which comes with free text messaging to mobile phone numbers (available in the U.S., Canada, India and the Philippines). It’s just the latest in a long line of free SMS services; you can send SMS from Skype or even from your AIM client. Meanwhile, Twitter, Jaiku, and scores of other applications are using SMS as a means to bridge the Web and mobile.

Fellow VoIP blogger Andy Abramson points out that SMS (thanks to its relative simplicity) can basically help bring together disparate services and overcome the messaging mess we deal with on a daily basis. Why?

Unlike the instant messaging networks where interoperability still remains a dream, mobile carriers — thanks to the money-making potential of SMS — are happy to interoperate with each other. And the higher usage will drive down costs, making it even more profitable for carriers. At least for SMS, greed turned out to be good.

The popularity of SMS parallels that of email: It is simple, easy and doesn’t need any expensive gear to send or receive. Like email, it is socialist in its usage — a cheap $50 phone can send and receive SMS messages from a luxury model, Nokia N95 and even more snobbish iPhone.

But unlike email, SMS remains an inherently private and intimate medium of communications, limited of course by 160 characters and a 10-cent-per-message charge (in the U.S., at least.) That, in and of itself, makes it more valuable.

Some (mostly entrepreneurs and venture capitalists) believe that like email, SMS is the vehicle for add-on-innovation. There are gaming companies that have turned SMS-based voting into a big business. Voice SMS is being talked about as the next big thing.

And while we wait for that to happen, let’s just all hail the SMS, the technology that lets me stay in touch with Mom — asynchronously, of course.

17 Responses to “All Hail The SMS”

  1. Actually, SMS over IP already exists if you actually think about the ways that people in Europe and Asia are actually using SMS and especially younger folk.
    SMS over IP is infact instant messaging (ala MSN, GoogleTalk, …).
    SMS is in great used to day to replace calling and as a way to quickly chat with your contacts (does that not sound in part like IM). Historically, Europeans and Asians have grown to adopt SMS as a form of communication as it is cheaper than actually placing the call.

  2. hpearson

    while one cannot debate the simplicity of SMS, new mobile email technologies are emerging which leverage the email platform already in most modern handsets, so are as easy to use as SMS. one of which is – and it has proven to be easy to set up and to use.

  3. It doesn’t seems like Y! has SMS enabled from Mail app…which still says BETA-btw. I am not seeing it at least!

    Slow and confusing service ..could have been tested a lot more.

    Things companies to get instant stock market gratification…and fail.

  4. mikeelliott1

    It’s going to be interesting to see the long-term effects that the explosion of SMS eventually has on our social interaction. It adds a whole new level of availability to people, breaking through politeness barriers that cell phones haven’t managed yet. I’ve already heard many stories of employees texting during meetings, of kids in school texting each other answers to tests, etc.

    I’m waiting for the eventual move to the telepathic platform, when we can send and receive messages to each other without even going to the trouble of inputing text.

  5. I always love it. Recently, in our country, one of the largest “bangla free blog portal service” they integrate blogging via sms. Simply, you have to registration and then sms (only for BD & charge applicable). People also enjoy this one. So….sms make us faster.
    Thanks dear OM to share with us.

  6. as a developer that has played with this stuff a bit I’ll give some tips to people looking to play.

    To use it with your own equipment you need to buy a GSM modem and then put your sim card into the modem and communicate with it that way.

    If you want to use a shortcode and or premium rate then for starters I would look for a 3rd party to deal with this for you.

    I currently use for my experiments. They offer a pay as you go service.

    I think that isp’s should offer this service like they do emails. If they did it would explode.

  7. Loved the article. My 2 cents devoted to how well put that was. Taught me alot.

    Anyway, i hope to see SMS voice messaging come to be the big thing. Also, this IS becoming a huge hobbie, but i didnt know of 15-25 year olds. Thats just crazy. There are people getting into accidents while texting more rather than being on the phone in general these days. How times change.