Trying to be the first one to wish a friend on his birthday to informing concerned parents about your whereabouts, Short Messaging Service (SMS) has played an important part in our lives in the last one decade by connecting us to our loved ones in a span of few seconds.
However, with the advent of (Instant Messaging) IM and networking websites, SMS is now on a downward spiral. For Gen X, texting is not exactly the most sought after way to connect.
Years back when mobile phones made their entry into the Indian market, texting turned into a big rage. Owning a mobile phone was the most coveted thing and despite steep charges levied for calls and even for receiving text messages, one always wanted to be a part of the ‘elite club’.
The first text message ‘Merry Christmas’ was sent by Neil Papworth on December 3, 1992 by typing it on the computer. He was part of the team at Vodafone that was developing a Short Messaging Service Centre.
Not many were hopeful that it could replace the e-mails and letters that one would tediously write and wait for, apart from the regular telephone calls of course, hoping to catch some news of one’s loved ones.
However, it soon became the ‘in’ thing and easily replaced the long letters and emails that we used to write. Texting replaced the way we perceived communication and became one of the most used features of the phone, easily surpassing the main function of the phone – making and receiving calls.
It brought a revolution in the world of communication. From wishing someone on a birthday to a simply hi! SMS provided us a way to be in contact without being intrusive.
Some complained about the missing ‘human touch’ that the hand-written letters and personalized greeting cards had. Lengthy letters with every possible detail got cut short to around 160 characters. And emotions were compensated too via emoticons and SMS lingo.
After years of being an integral part of our lives, the charm of sending SMS seems to be fading away. It is now being replaced by new-age IMs and social networking websites through which one can instantly connect. The introduction of smartphones makes it easier for people to have internet access through which they prefer to communicate using IMs and social networking sites.
Statistics reveal that the usage of SMS is on the decline. The volume of texts sent in Britain reached a peak of 39.7 billion at the end of last year, but have now dropped to 38.5 billion, the first recorded decline, according to research figures from media regulator Ofcom. The first half of 2012 saw two quarterly declines in the volume of SMS messages, falling slightly from their peak of 39.7 billion in the last quarter of 2011.
With the advent of new technologies after every few months our habits gradually shift and replace one with the other, getting attuned to it in the end. However, it does teach us something at the end of the day - nothing is irreplaceable.
P.S.: Short Messaging Service (SMS) recently celebrated its 20st birthday ?