It’s estimated that 1.5 billion text messages are sent each week in Britain. But with new apps offering free instant message services and networks working on a replacement, how long can the trusty SMS survive?
This week saw the 19th birthday of the text message after the first ever text was sent on 3 December 1992 simply reading ‘Merry Christmas’.
But will this huge favourite make it to 20, or will it fall foul to younger upstarts?
I’ve written before about the introduction of iMessage and how it’s no threat to the text message. I do stand by my point that while the service is restricted to talking to Apple devices it will never replace the text message.
It’s the same story with Blackberry messaging (BBM) which has been around for years and offered more functionality than the humble text – but has done little to dent its popularity.
Does the text have any real competition?
The real threat to the SMS is from services that will talk to phones from all manufacturers – the most popular of these is an app called WhatsApp. These services allow people to have real time conversations and tell you when someone has read your message – but most importantly, are free.
They do use a small amount of data through the internet, but if you have a large data allowance or are connected to a wi-fi network this will cost you nothing and could potentially replace the estimated £73.45bn spend on text messages last year.
And network operators are now working together on rich communication services to use across devices. This means that soon we won’t even have to go to the trouble of downloading an app to get access to these services.
These new messengers are restricted to smartphones, so the text message may have a few years left in it. But, with smartphone ownership approaching the 50% mark and already past 60% in 25-34 year-olds, I think its days are numbered.
Are you ready to close the envelope on the text message? Will you be sad to see the back of the SMS?