December 3, 2012 1:48 pm | Leave your thoughts
The content of the message read ‘Merry Christmas’, and sparked the birth of SMS (short message service) protocols, which are now used by an estimated 4 billion people world wide.
In a very rare interview with the BBC, Matt Makkonen describes how he initially saw SMS as a useful tool for businesses, rather than a whole new way of communicating: “20yrs ago I didn’t see sms as separate issue – it was just a feature in the revolutionary mobile communications system. Very useful for quick business needs.”
Although he was the original creator of the technology, he has never made a significant amount of money from the invention. Unlike many other modern technological inventions, he was never able to gain a patent. He reflects on this himself by stating that “I don’t think I made a patentable innovation, but was one of the early persons to understand the need and the concept.”
The 20 years landmark, is also set to coincide with the first decline in mobile text message activity. Last year Ofcom reported that there were 39.7 billion messages sent in the UK throughout 2011. However, following two quarterly declines this year, 2012 will struggle to hit 38.5 billion.
The falls have been put down to new forms of communication which have now started to over take SMS. This includes instant messaging over Social Media platforms such as FaceBook and Twitter, with modern smart phones notifying users of incoming messages much in the same way as they handle SMS. There are also several instant messaging platforms now widely used worldwide, such as BBM (Blackberry Messenger), Windows Messenger and Skype. This is mainly down the fact that these services are completely free to use providing the user has access to an internet connection.
SMS also opened a brand new channel for marketers to promote products, or build relationships with present customers. An SMS message has an average open rate of 70%, regardless of where it was sent from. This is significantly higher than other electronic marketing communications such as email.
What’s the future of SMS?
Well it seems clear that social media is rapidly becoming the number one for instant text communication. Many mobile users, especially teenagers are not subscribed to a mobile messaging bundle, meaning they often pay for each text message they send. That said, there will still be 38 billion text messages sent in 2012 which means the use of SMS isn’t going anywhere yet!