The short text message service (SMS) seems to be a digital type in decline, 30 years after its birth, in light of the growth of social networks and online messaging services such as “WhatsApp”, “Messenger” and “Telegram”, but it is still steadfast on mobile phones.
There is no evidence of its transformation into a mere souvenir that collectors of old items love, than the fact that the first short text message in history, sent by the operator “Vodafone” on December 3, 1992, was sold in December 2021 at an auction by the “Agot” house in France in the form of an indissoluble symbol. Exchangeable (NFT) products, which are digital products accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity, are revolutionizing the Internet, reports a local Arabic daily quoting from AFP.
The message, which was received in 1992 by Richard Jarvis, a collaborator with Vodafone, during the Christmas period, consisted of 15 letters and contained the phrase “Merry Christmas”. This message, which was sent from a computer, revolutionized communication methods thanks to its simplicity of use.
It is “a technology of European origin,” recalls Marc-Antoine Dupuy, son of French engineer Philippe Dupuy who is considered the co-inventor of GSM, the second-generation mobile network that enabled widespread use of SMS in the late 1990s.
And because the maximum available text message size is limited to 160 characters, its users resorted to abbreviating their words, so writing “SMS” became more like encrypted texts, inlaid with “emoji” faces expressing the auction, reactions and feelings, but the development of communication technology and the capabilities of smart phones opened Unlimited door to enrich these messages with pictures, videos and other materials.
Although the demand for using short messages remained high until the beginning of 2010, especially for the exchange of greetings and congratulations, the use of short messages in conversations between people is declining.
In Britain alone, the usage rate is a quarter of what it was ten years ago, and has fallen below ten billion in the first half of 2022, according to the UK’s communications regulator (Ofcom).
This is mainly due to the emergence of social networks (“Facebook”, “Snapchat” and “Instagram”), especially online messaging services such as “WhatsApp”, “Messenger”, “iMessage”, “Viber” and “Telegram”, which made it possible Avoid roaming fees abroad by providing telephone and text communication through the Internet.
Also in Asia, messaging services “WeChat” (China), “Line” (Japan) and “Kakaotok” (South Korea) jumped to the fore, thanks to innovations that attracted young generations, such as the possibility of creating conversation groups or even confirming the reading of messages.
For example, the use of online chatting services increased by 53.73 percent in one year among the age group from 16 to 24 years, while the use of SMS decreased by 29 percent, according to a study issued in 2021 by the European Regulators Authority for Electronic Communications.
However, SMS does not acknowledge defeat in certain parts of the world, as is the case in Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa. In 2021, about ten billion text messages were sent, an increase of 15 percent over the previous year, according to a report by the Nigerian Communications Commission.
Although the vast majority of Nigerians own mobile phones, in 2021 only 44 percent of those with Internet access were available. The cost of SMS is very low compared to the cost of an Internet connection, which enables it to continue to compete in this country, where the income of one in every two people is less than two dollars a day.
Some believe that short messages are also still necessary as a “tool for identity and security verification”, whether with regard to bank depositors entering their accounts, or in the field of receiving postal parcels, for example, or even medical examinations, such as the “Covid-19” test.
Marc-Antoine Dupuy said that “short messages are one of the two possible obligatory means of sending warnings to the population” in the face of natural, industrial, health or terrorist dangers.
According to “Agence France Presse”, one of the indicators of the continued vitality of SMS is the high demand for its use from advertising and “transactional” applications, whose SMS revenues are expected to exceed $ 50 billion in 2023 worldwide, according to the “Juniper Research” research institution.