Surprisingly enough, SMS and text messages services are 20 years old as of 2012. The same building blocks of technology that started the SMS services are still the basis for how the technology is used today, although in a more advanced form. What threatens the use of SMS in today’s world, is the ever-changing and evolving cellular network.
Right now, there are many alternatives to traditional SMS text services, including Apple’s iMessage, WhatsApp, Viber, and Facebook Instant Messaging. These other systems use IP connections to send the messages, rather than the SMS network. This has driven the use of traditional SMS texts down by a significant amount.
According to DigitalTrends, in 2011, there was an increase of 14 percent in the number of SMS messages sent over 2010. In 2011, there were over two trillion SMS messages sent in the United States. This is a huge amount of texts that still used the traditional service over alternatives. But for cellular carriers, SMS messages are not the income-producing service it once was. While in the past, people paid per text message, now most people have an unlimited text plan that costs just a few dollars each month. The overall profits that cellular companies receive from SMS messages have dropped by 10 to 15 percent in the past few years.
Though the reliance on the SMS system is starting to fade and may eventually be replaced with other services, it will still be around for a while for many of the following reasons:
SMS is the default backup messaging service
When someone sends a message through an IP connection or another messaging service, it will go through if the system is connected online. If it is not, many messaging systems use the SMS system to send the message anyway. This will keep the SMS system around for a while longer.
Not all messaging systems are compatible
Many of the alternative texting and messaging services available require both users to use the same system. If you want to send messages to someone not in your phone network or that uses a different messaging system, you will have to either download the system they use or send your messages through the SMS service.
E-mail is less reliable as SMS
Many phones can send and receive e-mail messages, e-mails do not travel as quickly as text messages. Many phone e-mail interfaces are difficult to use, and it is frustrating to try and communicate quickly through phone-based e-mail.
SMS technology is changing
Although SMS technology is old, it is evolving just like the other phone and technology services. The SMS network continues to offer services and technology that make communicating quickly easier than ever.
There are many reasons why SMS messaging will be around for a few more years, it is highly likely that the system will become outdated in just a few years. By the year 2020, it is likely that there will be fewer SMS users than ever, and many other companies will have created effective alternatives that prevent the fees associated with using the SMS service by taking advantage of mobile Internet and other services.