THE TEXT MESSAGE is celebrating its 20th birthday today, although it looks to have passed its peak.
The first ever text message, or short message service (SMS) was sent on 3 December 1992. The message was sent by a 22 year old British engineer to an Orbitel 901 mobile phone, and read "Merry Christmas". This sparked a revolution in the way people communicated, with a whopping 150 billion text messages being sent in 2011.
However, as it turns 20, it looks like the text message might be past its prime. Ofcom has revealed that text messaging saw its first decline in the UK in the first half of 2012. SMS messages in the UK fell to 38.5 billion in the second quarter, down from 39.7 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011.
This is probably down to services such as Whatsapp and Imessage, which allow users to send free instant messages over internet connections. As more and more internet connected devices arrive in the hands on consumers, this decline is likely to accelerate.
Ofcom director of research James Thickett said, "When texting was first conceived many saw it as nothing more than a niche service.
"But texts have now surpassed traditional phone calls and meeting face to face as the most frequent way of keeping in touch for UK adults, revolutionising the way we socialise, work and network.
"For the first time in the history of mobile phones, SMS volumes are showing signs of decline. However the availability of a wider range of communications tools like instant messaging and social networking sites mean that people might be sending fewer SMS messages, but they are 'texting' more than ever before."
Still, that's not to say that the text message has got a bleak future ahead, as Informa analysts predict that the popularity of SMS will increase as we go forward, and disputes Ofcom's latest numbers with stats from around the globe.
A spokesperson said, "Informa forecasts that global SMS traffic will increase to 6.7 trillion messages, representing a year-on-year increase of 13.6 [percent], up from 5.9 trillion messages in 2011. That global growth is set to continue.
"Informa forecasts SMS traffic will total 9.4 trillion messages in 2016, and will generate $127bn in revenues."
Happy birthday, txt msging :-). µ
Sign up for INQbot – a weekly roundup of the best from the INQ