Insight

A year in review for SMS

It's been a turbulent year in practically every aspect of everyday life. But for this look back at 2012, we'll stick to what we know best - SMS.

December 31 2012

It's been a turbulent year in technology, telecommunications, economy, practically every aspect of everyday life. But for this look back at 2012, we'll stick to what we know best, SMS, and list some of the events that marked the year for text.

Another round goes to SMS in the OTT duel

Smartphones and mobile data networks advance in huge leaps in terms of accessibility, coverage and user experience. No wonder that OTT services have seen a huge boom, accompanied by booming proclamations of the demise of SMS. A legacy tech, expensive and uncool, questions were raised of its future and viability faced with the onslaught of existing OTT players and major new entrants such as Facebook.

But none of those contenders to the throne of text have the reach that SMS has, the ability to work between all types of phones, everywhere that you can find a mobile signal and without data connections or apps. Until that OTT player appears, SMS will remain the go-to mobile channel for delivering all sorts of messages, from marketing and m-banking notifications, to emergency alerts and of course, your good old person-to-person texts.

Sandy had an unexpected star

The hurricane Sandy came and went, leaving devastation and tragic deaths, wreaking havoc on people's lives and leaving many in the dark, without power or telecommunications. FEMA recommended citizens in struck areas to use SMS to overcome 3G and broadband outages and relieve strain on mobile networks.

This came as no surprise to anyone in the SMS business, but it was definitely the most high-profile example of the resilience and success of the humble SMS. There is no other mobile channel so reliable and yet so sparing with network resources that can match SMS in any category. It would take a major disaster to take it down and that's what makes it the perfect tool for disseminating emergency notifications.

20 years is forever in technology

SMS celebrated its 20th birthday on 3 December. If you look at the top gadgets of 1992, when Super Nintendo was the norm, the MiniDisc the hot new thing and when the VHS still reigned supreme, you'll see the world has changed in oh so many ways. But SMS is the same, and here it means a good thing.

It means SMS is still the same resilient and ubiquitous communication channel that has survived all the giant leaps in technology because none of its competitors can really match it when it comes down to reach and reliability. Sure, it's not super-sexy like any of those fancy smartphone apps, but when you just need to get that message delivered to an old aunt with an old flip phone, SMS will do it. You can be sure of that.

So what about 2013?

It's hard to say, but some things are certain: among all the smartphone wars, LTE networks, social integration and m-payments breakthroughs expected or desired in 2013, SMS will still be there, connecting people wherever there is a mobile phone and delivering that one important message.

We'll be back next year, until then we wish you a fun celebration and all the best in the next 365 days!