SMS marks its 20th Birthday amid declining trends in availing short message services. For the first time in SMS history, it shows a declining number.  As of now, around four billion people around the world use Short Message Services. On an average, around two lakh SMS are sent every second. But the trend, since its inception, has declined for the first time.


“For the first time in the history of mobile phones, SMS volumes are showing signs of decline,” ‘The Independent’ quoted James Thickett, Ofcom’s director of research, as saying.

“The availability of a wider range of communications tools, like instant messaging and social networking sites, means people might be sending fewer SMS messages, but they are communicating electronically more than ever before,” Thickett said.

Media regulator Ofcom released the figures in which it saw two quarterly declines, by over a billion in the volume of the messages sent in UK Last year, the volume of messages reached its peak of 39.7 billion, but from there has dropped to 38.5 billion. The pattern is similar in USA.

The inception of SMS dates back to December, 1992, when Neil Paperworth, a 22 year old British engineer, sent a text message saying “Merry Christmas” via Vodafone’s UK network to an Orbitel 901 Mobile phone.

The first commercial SMS service was started in 1993 in Sweden. The UK and USA also started the service in the same year. Mobile maker Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK) claims to be the first to launch an SMS enabled GSM phone with the launch of NOKIA 2110. However, the NOKIA 1110, could also receive and send messages.                 

Mati Makonnen, SMS pioneer, gave an interesting interview through Text messages to the BBC World in which he talked over the past, present and futures of ‘SMSing’. Mati Makonnen, a Finnish civil servant, was the first to coin the idea of Short message services in a telecoms conference. He said – “20yrs ago I didn’t see sms as a separate issue – it was just a feature in the revolutionary mobile communications system. Very useful for quick business needs”.

According to a report, technological changes are now so rapid that it is hard to say that what would be the method of communicating twenty years after from now. Makonnen however, believed that SMS would stay forever. The declining trends in SMS are also due to advanced Blackberry Messengers (BBM) and apps like WhatsApp from Android.

“20 years is long time… I believe that reliable convenient to use text messaging will stay forever. Is not necessary what we call sms. No more pay per message”.