It was not very long when in 1985 the concept of SMS was developed and by 2005, it became a mass movement with everybody playing with the keys of their cell phone to text a message to their near and dear ones. It was indeed, amusing that how a technology which born out of mistake, a classical tale, a mere platform for operator’s own message, suddenly grew into a phenomenon and swept the whole world by its magic.
Contrary to its name i.e. Short Message Service lived for a long time. It gave rise to the whole new generation of SMSers. It defined everything they did, the music they heard, the movies they saw, the clothes they wore and especially the gossip they shared. But as they say, that it is a competitive world and no one can rule it for a long time. Same thing happened or rather is happening with SMS which was once tagged as ‘The most practical inventions of the 21st century. Now, even the mobile companies say that their SMS usage has dramatically dropped.
SMS, today, is being replaced by the WAP services. The WAP services have made it possible for the youngsters to access their email services and social networking sites anytime and anywhere in the world. Moreover, after the allotment of 3G spectrum to mobile telephony, the emphasis on email services, chat clients and every other little bit of gizmo-wizardry that makes the handset the perfect social networking device has increased.
Today, more than SMSing to a friend, a youngster is busier in updating his/ her status on Facebook through his phone. Now the push mail service has become the ‘IN’ thing among the youngsters as instant messaging makes it virtually free to talk to friends anywhere in the world, glitch free. While most phones nowadays, even entry-level ones, let you log in and check your email, its push mail that’s challenging the SMS to a shootout.
As recently as last month, Nokia also started providing Push mail service which was monopolized by Blackberry for a long time. Nokia has even launched its exclusive chat similar to Blackberry’s hugely popular Messenger service which is free for all its customers worldwide and SMS practically redundant for them.
Not only this, but now there are open source chat clients like Gtalk, Yahoo! etc, which can be easily downloaded on the cell phones. There are several other open source chat clients also which let you connect to any of your other chats. There is Nimbuzz which lets you connect and chat with all your friends on Facebook and many more.
In the light of the above one can say that with more and more data enabled smart phones penetrating the market, instant messaging, social networking and email, the SMS has taken a side step. Now SMS usage is restricted to people you haven’t added yet.
Even at a larger level, experts say that mobile internet has greater potential in rural India, given its ease of use. Surveys like Dsquared have predicted a 233 per cent increase in Indian mobile internet users to 260 million by 2015. Another survey pegs the figure at 162.1 million by 2014, up from 12.1 million today. By then, at least two in every three phones will be ‘smart’, according to IDC projections.
But future of SMS isn’t bleak at all as being online would cost money. While instant messaging hold good as long as your friends and contacts stay online, a short message can reach them anytime. Moreover, many smart phones are still to develop comprehensive contact management features which let you synch contacts from across social networks and chat clients with your phone book, something that is available only in the more expensive smart phones. Thus SMS, mobile-chat, etc. can exist side by side.
But what remains truth is that today, the distinction between work style and life style is becoming blur and plain text is just too plain to keep up. Moreover, the time has changed so much so that asking a girl for her phone number has become obsolete. Now it’s her email or BlackBerry Pin. Or better still, an enlisting on Facebook.