Sunday, 3 December 2017

SMS is 25 years old today

SMS is 25 years old. The first SMS, "Merry Christmas" was sent on 3rd December 1992 from PC to the Orbitel 901 handset (picture above), which was only able to receive SMS but not send it. Sky news has an interview with Neil Papworth - the man who sent the very first one back in 1992 here.

While SMS use has been declining over some time, thanks to messaging apps on smartphones like WhatsApp, Viber, Facebook messenger, etc., it is still thought to be used for sending 20 billion messages per day.

While I dont have the latest figures, according to analyst Benedict Evans, WhatsApp and WeChat combined are now at over 100bn messages per day.

According to Daily Mirror, by the end of 2017, researchers expect 32 trillion messages to be sent annually over apps compared to only 7.89 trillion text messages.

Tomi Ahonen makes an interesting in the tweet above, all cellular phone users have SMS capability by default while only smartphone users who have downloaded the messaging apps can be reached by a particular messaging app. The reach of SMS will always be more than any competing apps.

That is the reason why GSMA is still betting on RCS, an evolution of SMS to compete with the messaging apps. My old post on RCS will provide some basic info here. A very recent RCS case studies document from GSMA here also provides some good info.

RCS will have a lot of hurdles and challenges to overcome to succeed. There is a small chance it can succeed but this will require change of mindset by operators, especially billing models for it to succeed.

Dean Bubley from Disruptive Analysis is a far bigger skeptic of RCS and has written various posts on why it will fail. One such post that makes interesting reading is here.

Anyway, love it or hate it, SMS is here to stay!

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Anonymous said...

Anyone who sees RCS as a COMPETITION to WhatsApp and other OTT messenging services, clearly deserves to be disappointed.
The only way you can see RCS is as the IP based (r)evolution of SMS: a basic messenging service that is natively integrated into devices and the service is part of the "basics" that MNOs offer and it shall always be available and anyone can be reached with this service.

Both is not yet reached. Not all MNOs have made RCS available in their Networsk, or have not made any interconncetion agreements with other MNOs - hence there is not even always the possibility to reach people on other networks in the same country, not to mention international interworking.

Google is working on this with their Jibe Hub... but do we really want to trust Google?

Native integration of RCS is also declining... Only Samsung is continuing their own RCS Implementation and Huawei is starting it... Anything else is OTT apps or Googles own Android Messages... So lot of cases where the user does not have this service aboard...

My opinion in short: RCS will not replace SMS if it is not as basic and easy to use and always available as SMS is today (and is already... like since 2000?)
RCS will never be a serious threat or competition to WhatsApp & Co... the users have chosen their Ecosystems, it will be hard to get them out of it. GSMA can stand on their head and shake their feet, it won't happen in my humble* opinion

(* = i'm working on RCS projects for a big European MNO)

brknMsg said...

100% right that operator IP services will and are replacing the circuit switched solutions that voice and sms use. This is why voice over LTE and RCS, you could call it messaging over LTE will succeed. Can they ever compete with whatsapp and line and wechat and Snapchat? No, but by 2020 we expect 99% of all handsets to use RCS.