25 years ago the first SMS was sent. It was followed by highs and deeps as well as innovative changes that significantly influenced not only the design but also the functionality. Today, the SMS is facing the big question of whether and how it goes on …
With 25 already close to the end?
Almost every mobile device in the world is able to receive SMS. This alone speaks for the success of the so-called Short Message Service. As a pioneer in terms of telecommunications, the SMS was very popular quickly, sat down against competitors such as fax and email stoically for a long time – and shall now die out?
In the industry one speaks recently of the extinction of the SMS. Free services such as WhatsApp, Messenger, iMessage and Co. crowd on the smartphones, push notifications are constantly filling the display – who is yet paying attention to incoming SMS?
More than you probably suspect. It should never be forgotten that SMS has been the No. 1 communication tool for so long, especially because of its adaptability, and that’s still the case for many business solutions (such as A2P). It may be that SMS is no longer the first choice in many areas of application, but from extinction is by no means a trace. Instead, the text message takes on new, promising shapes and will probably surprise us with some trend.
160 characters limit – limitless range
It started with the message “Merry Christmas”, which software developer Neil Papworth sent in 1992 as an SMS. Soon after, the whole world tediously entered up to 160 characters per message into small displays and sent messages for both private and commercial purposes. The network providers adjusted their tariffs and the 20 cents per SMS became miniscule prices and finally flat rates.
The high point of the SMS era is approximately 2012. This year, nearly 60 billion SMS messages were sent in Germany alone – after that, however, the numbers began to decline steadily.
Although the free message services already outperform their quota to each other, they all have one major blemish: No vendor has yet managed it that their app is installed on virtually every smartphone or phone worldwide. In fact, as technology, that can only assert e-mail and SMS from themself.
SMS as business solution for A2P
The application areas for text messages have changed, but are by no means completely developed. Especially for A2P applications SMS are an excellent solution and still have the potential to evolve.
A2P, short for application to person, refers to messages sent by applications or browsers to end users. In parallel, this service can be used as two-way messaging, that is, the recipient can respond directly to the SMS and so e.g. send feedback, participate in voting, confirm newsletter, etc.
This type of communication is mainly in the commercial and industrial sectors: alerting, 2-factor authentication, system monitoring, account monitoring up to parcel tracking, account messaging, appointment confirmations, and much more – everything that needs to be communicate fully automated. Above all, banks and financial service providers, retailers, logistics companies as well as medical areas and tourism have rediscovered the SMS for themselves.
Will RCS be the now form of SMS?
While the SMS is experiencing a new boom in the area of A2P, in private use RCS seems to be the most recent successor. The Rich Communication Service tried with “Joyn” to become a competitor to the currently successful market leader Whatsapp, but could not compete so far. Similar problems could also be faced to other vendor-dependent services such as Amazon’s “Anytime” coming up.
At the same time, one are working hard on the services message+ or call+, which also belong to the label RCS. Developed under the auspices of Network 2020 of the GSMA (industry association of international network provider), a new front appears to be emerging here that wants to recapture the market. Back in the hands of telecommunications providers. The goal is to establish a higher-quality service that includes short messages, pictures, chats, groups, video calls, location information, languages and files.
Currently, several vendors, including Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom and Telefonica (o2, e-plus) have the RCS app in their portfolio. The program is supported in different versions for iOS and Android – so it catches up with the competition.
Thanks to the cooperation with Google, a pre-installed Messenger will be available both on the current Android smartphones and, starting next year, for selected companies that will receive the “Business Chat” service from Apple. Both services are based on RCS and are intended to promote SMS development.
The big advantage: Like the SMS, RCS works independently of the sending tool (can be sent out of apps, emails, etc.), by the network operator (ie cross-network, also international) and by the receiving device. Thus, for example, companies can reach their customers directly, send important data, or request authentication.
Not only the SMS as a text message promises a impressing remake, but the entire telephone service. Half a year ago, the program “Digits” was launched in the US, developed by T-Mobile. This allows e.g. to use a number on multiple devices as well as multiple numbers on one device – without the need for a second SIM card.
So there is still a lot to do and communicate with the SMS. In particular, the A2P SMS will continue to provide important services in the future, reaching recipients worldwide with proven reliability. Therefore, we wish the SMS a happy 25th anniversary and look forward to continued successful cooperation;)