It’s two decades since the first SMS was sent. Smartphones and new-age apps may have dimmed things a bit on the SMS scene, but it’s definitely not getting written off as yet, finds NEETI SARKAR

When it was born, its creator wouldn’t have imagined how famous it would grow up to be. While its first couple of years was spent not that conspicuously, well before its teens, it managed to take the world by storm, changing the paradigms of technology, communication, and even relationships. The SMS turned 20 and one cannot help but wonder if it’s really been that long since acronyms like LOL (laugh out loud) and IDK (I don’t know) made their way into our vocabulary and lives

The first-ever text message was sent on December 3, 1992, by software engineer Neil Papworth, to Vodafone director Richard Jarvis. It simply read, “Merry Christmas”. On the occasion of its HBD (Happy Birthday), MetroPlus tracks the popularity of the ubiquitous SMS that has been praised for its succinctness and chastised for everything from sore thumbs to the virtual massacre of the English language.

“With the advent of smartphones, Instant Messaging has taken over the reins and the humble SMS is not as popular as it used to be about ten years ago. IM is faster, more economical with the umpteen data plans from service providers, and more importantly, its versatility makes it a more popular form of communication as compared to the SMS,” observes Arjun Dayal, a software engineer.

Losing ground?

According to collegian Snehanshu Jain, “The SMS is slowly losing ground because with QWERTY keypads, Swype function on keyboards and of course the T9 dictionary on other phones; people are not using non-understandable short forms for words anymore. It’s just the ones that are common and that we’re familiar with that we still use. SMS language is now more decipherable because we’ve reduced sending SMSs and have switched to other applications, services and hi-tech phones.”

Others like Deepanjali Singh, a corporate communication executive, believes: “It isn’t just about applications such as WhatsApp, Gtalk, and BlackBerry Messenger that have given text messaging a toss. Now everyone is on Facebook all the time so most conversations happen online than anywhere else.”

On the flipside, the SMS still has a fairly large fan following and apparently its popularity has much to do with the age bracket of the people who use it.

“It’s usually middle and high school students who succumb to the SMS bug because many of their parents don’t buy them very expensive phones or parents keep tabs on their kids’ data usage.

Also, older people, who are accustomed to SMSing and haven’t switched over to a smartphone, prefer to send SMSs,” says Sharadha R, a lecturer.

“Call rates have dropped in the recent past and now network providers lure customers with economical SMS packs and to some extent that has retained fans of text messaging,” observes Anahita Majumdar, a marketing analyst.

She adds: “There are those who don’t like being connected to the world all the time and despite possessing a smartphone, often choose to disable the data mode, because of which they finally do end up sending SMSs.”

According to a finding by Portio Research, globally, 8.6 trillion text messages are sent each year. And despite using popular apps and services, such as Apple’s iMessage, Facebook messenger, GroupMe and WhatsApp, Smartphones still only account for 50 per cent of all cell phones, which just implies that despite the apparent dwindling in its fame, text messaging is very likely to be around for quite a few years to come!

Lng liv d sms!