HYDERABAD: The Short Message Service, popularly known as SMS, which gained great prominence in the early 2000’s has now become passe with alternative messaging modes that are absolutely free becoming the order of the day. Teenagers of today, like always, are constantly looking for cheap and affordable instant messaging options that help them stay in-touch with friends and others every second.
While mobile services like Airtel and Vodafone offer message packs that charge a relatively nominal amount (like Rs 26 for a month of free messages, both local and outstation), the new-gen services are a far cry better. All one has to do is download the application and you’re set for life!
With phones like BlackBerry picking up in the market, the number of people communicating through BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), and apps like WhatsApp and Chat On make chatting not only affordable within the same country.
BBM started the shift from conventional messaging to free messaging that has evolved from a business tool to a virtual youth cult. In its wake, WhatsApp saw a sharp rise to fame but has of late become a target to many hoaxes, for example the rumour that claimed that users with less than 10 friends would be charged. There have also been rumblings about security issues that saw WhatsApp briefly being pulled from the App Store. However, that has done little to mar its popularity. Chat ON hasn’t enjoyed such a mercurial reputation, perhaps because its available only on iOS, Android and BlackBerry but not Windows-enabled phones as yet. iMessage is built into iOS 5 with a typically slick interface, but you can only chat with other iOS users Group chat, instant real-time conversations, sending each other songs and photos and even videos.
Another reason these applications are used often and loved is the option of being able to share status updates and profile pictures.
Shanti Ragam, 19, a student from St. Francis College says, “The age of SMS is gone. It takes too long to wait for a person to respond via SMS. People reply immediately if you WhatsApp or BBM them.”
Agreeing, Pratik Shah a 22 year-old engineering student says, “WhatsApp is a two way messaging but in SMS it’s one-sided and we don’t know weather the opposite person received our message or not, therefore I find this more convenient than sending an SMS.”
And that’s not all. These applications are way cheaper when compared to the costs incurred on text messaging. “When we recharge our phone monthly for the SMS package, it still costs me for every text message I send. But, in these apps, once the package is acquired, I can send unlimited messages and all free of cost,” says Meghna Sastry, an avid user of Whatsapp and BBM. Apart from being economical and getting an instant reply, these applications also provide a platform to exchange pictures, videos and more. Agreeing with this is Trupti Jalan, a 20-year-old from the city, “I love these applications because I can share pictures, songs, videos and many more things with my friends and this is not possible through SMS.”
However, on the other hand, there are a set of people, who don’t own smart phones and are content with their regular phones. One of them is a 22-year-old, Shwetha Kurian, who opines, “I own a Nokia phone, which is not a smart phone, but serves its purpose well enough. Even though most of my friends use applications, `26 a month is not a big deal. So, I am pretty happy with not upgrading my phone or the application services, since that might cost me a lot more,”
Seems like the battle between SMS and the latest applications will be go on, but going by the popularity of it, the concept of SMS is surely losing its charm amongst Hyderabadi youngsters.