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History of SMS and its Future

Updated on November 30, 2012

Concept of modern-day SMS came into being by the technological co-operation of the experts from France and Germany in 1984. Friedhelm Hillebrand and Bernard Ghillebaert were the masterminds behind this concept. First-ever proposal to start development of this service was put-forth in February 1985 in a meeting of GSM that took place in Oslo. There they decided three services of SMS in that meeting. The first service was SM Mobile Terminated / Point-to-Point which means that the service will enable a device to send a message. The second service was SM Mobile Originated / Point-to-Point which means that this service will enable a device to receive a message. The third service was Short message Cell Broadcast which means that the device will be able to broadcast a single message to multiple devices that are capable of receiving the message. After two years Data and Telematics Services Experts Group (currently known as WP4) set up the standards that could act as basis for the service of SMS to operate. Very shortly after that, IDEG developed a Drafting Group Message Handling service. This service established the specifications and design of SMS.

First-ever SMS of the world was sent by an engineer of Sema Group. His name was Neil Papworth. He sent this SMS on 3rd of December 1992 to Richard Jarvis who was the director of Vodaphone. Richard Jarvis received this SMS on Vodaphone GSM network. The handset used to receive this SMS was Orbital 901 and the message read "Merry Christmas!"

SMS service was rarely used by the users in the first year of its birth. GSM customers used to send only 0.4 SMS per month on the average. During the year 2001, this figure increased to 35. It was the year 2006 when 205 million SMS were consumed in Great Britain. This great increase in use was due to the low billing rates charged for SMS. Another reason was that until 1999 mobile phone networks did not allow their customers to send SMS to the customers of other mobile operators. This decision to allow SMS service between other networks worked great and today SMS is available not only on GSM but 3G networks as well.

Due to introduction of SMS Marketing, this service has slowly and gradually become several billion dollars industry for mobile network operators. This service stays more popular in Europe as compared to the United States.

What actually the future can hold for SMS? This question could be answered using some common sense. Increasing popularity of smartphones and introduction of internet data packages have made it possible to communicate through web messengers where a person can send longer text messages as compared to SMS. Smartphones have enabled people to type more efficiently by using touchscreen mobile keyboards and QWERTY keypads. Currently the usage of SMS might hold its place but future belongs to internet and with access to unlimited data packages, people are declining more and more towards mobile versions of Yahoo, MSN, Skype, Gmail and Facebook. They can voice chat, send text messages, send and receive audio, video and many other file formats using these services. This will cause a major decline in SMS usage in the coming few years.


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