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Wonderful memories of SMS

Dr. Md. Shamsul Arefin
25 Jan 2023 00:02:02 | Update: 25 Jan 2023 00:02:02
Wonderful memories of SMS

The text message has celebrated its 30th birthday on 03 of December 2022, 30th year of its discovery. The first SMS was sent to a mobile phone by a Vodafone engineer Neil Papworth in Berkshire in the UK on 3 December 1992.

Since then SMS messaging has been a part of life and remains one of the most commonly used methods of communication, even with the rapid growth of mobile messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. Now a days, a typical person is sending and receiving an average of three text messages in a day. The same is also true for older generations, for whom SMS messaging is perhaps even preferable to modern alternatives.

SMS is one of the simplest, most straight-forward, and most disseminated technologies in our lifetime. We don’t give it much attention when checking our phones for messages. Once upon a time, humans used to communicate through land phones and letters. Yes, no smartphones and no internet. 

On December 3rd, 1992, that festive expression was the first text message ever sent by Vodafone developer Neil Papworth via his PC to a Nokia cell phone. Just 30 years later, an estimated 5 billion people worldwide are sending and receiving messages and making texting as one of the most popular communication methods.  However, SMS had humble beginnings when first starting as a new technology. Let’s look at how texting has transformed over the last three decades. In the ’90s, texting services were expensive and limited and a few words can be texted by pressing number button. It took a long time to text. One time pressing the button number one is A, two times B and three times C letter comes. Now we can write instantly SMS whatever we desire. 

Today, texting is a most popular communications channel with a rate of over 80% consumers who have embraced texting for its simplicity, convenience, and speed.  Businesses know that a text message is the best way to reach customers quickly. There are many important uses of business-to-consumer messaging, including healthcare, hospitals and clinics use SMS for better patient communication.  Customer service (agent-to-customer communication) text messaging eliminates the long waiting times associated with call centers and allows customers to start fixing their problems immediately. Air travel agents communicate with passengers via SMS to remind them about check-in and boarding time or alert them of changes in flight schedules.

If Neil Papworth would be sending the first SMS today in the 2023, his “Merry Christmas” text would probably include “Thanks for doing business with us” as well. The history of text messaging started in the United Kingdom in the 1980s, where two engineers developed the standards for SMS messaging, but it wasn’t until 1992 that the first text message was sent by Neil Papworth. Without texting, no one would be able to send a quick note to family members or coordinate office meetings on the go without making a phone call. Thanks to SMS, everyone can now be more efficient, independent, and direct with communications. Among all the simple communications methods, people choose to send millions of text messages every day?

Modern technology has made our life easy to send messages to family members, friends and colleagues. What we used to take days to send through the postal mail now can send in seconds. We have so many more options for creating cute messages that express heartfelt sentiments in our fun. A picture is worth than a thousand words, and it’s true. Now we can send photos with messages that makes our happiness manifold. The happiness is endless when it comes with an image and it may make even more special. Now we can send an audio message with our own voice, creating a moment worth cherishing. SMS has transformed both lives and economies. By the end of 2022, SMS was the most widely used data application and about 80% active users of all mobile phone subscribers sent SMS at least once a day.

In Europe, SMS is the most popular arm of the mobile marketing industry, with several 100 million SMS marketing text messages sent out each month.  Before the pandemic, 51% of US retailers used SMS for their business communications.  In an American report it is seen that Americans check their phones every twenty minutes – that's 60 times a day. Text messaging is preferred in the FinTech industry for simple and urgent communications such as loan approvals and rejections or information of our bank account balance including debit and credit data. It's also the channel of choice for payment reminders because text has more impact than email. SMS is still massively popular worldwide. It’s a technology that’s accessible to everyone with a cell phone. Texting provides heaps of opportunities to communicate with customers to grow business.  Now google G- board can help us in taxing SMS just by our voice. We do not need to type any words, just if we tell sentences, it will automatically write words what we say and then we can send this written SMS where ever we want.

Can we think for a single day without SMS? Now SMS has shaped our days in a different way. We sometimes think that the other-end may be busy right now, thus texting is better option than a direct phone call. In a traffic jam, we use most of our idle time by texting SMS or reading SMS.  Now our life is attached with SMS, who knows in near future we will be fully voiceless and dependent on SMS for arranging office meeting to dinner at night. 

The writer is a former Senior Secretary and currently teaching as an Adjunct Faculty at the Bangladesh Institute of Governance and Management (BIGM). He can be contacted at [email protected]