New Delhi: "Merry Christmas" said the first SMS that was sent out 20 years ago. Two decades and trillions of SMSs later, fewer people will wish their family and friends "Merry Christmas" via an SMS compared to the year before.
The humble 160-character Short Message Service may have been revolutionary, but like many revolutions this too is in the process of being overtaken along the evolutionary path and the SMS might not be there to celebrate its 40th birthday.
While messaging in the text format will live on for long, but the SMS format will not. Internet connected mobile phones and messaging applications have already plummeted SMS usage. The many advantages of messaging apps over traditional text messages that have not evolved much in all these years is what is making users move away from SMS as a mode of communication.
In many ways SMS is going the email way. It is fading away as a medium of personal communication and is now more popular for businesses to reach out to customers than for people to contact their friends and family.
The SMS will not die an immediate death in the near future because of its use as a security alert and recovery mechanism for our online and financial accounts. But when that need will also be served by some other service, it will very well be the end of the road for the SMS in many markets. The only hope remains where Internet usage on the mobile has not yet caught up.