Text Messaging (SMS): Dead or Alive?

I recently wrote this piece for my weekly column, “Technology 101” on YNaija! I have tweaked it a bit to make it fit for my site.

SMS has been a crucial tool of effective communication over the past 19 years. Over 3.05 billion phones out of the about 4 billion phones in the world are SMS enabled.

SMS has been a great source of quick, cheap and efficient means of information dissemination. Many Nigerians today have benefitted greatly from the potency of this technology. It has allowed many stay close to their loved ones. In fact, it even became a money spinner for many. Just a couple of months ago, one of the big things in town was to own a bulk SMS website, next was SMS marketing. Truth be told, the benefits of SMS cannot be over emphasized.

However, the invention of “more” modern technologies is gradually shifting all attention off SMS. Innovations such as the numerous Social Networking platforms are becoming the next alternative to SMS. Actually, Social Media is already the big thing in town, except if you live in another world. Platforms such as Facebook, twitter and many others have actually influenced the way people communicate with one another. One of the many ways Social media has changed the way we communicate is on the issue of text messaging. We now live in a world where more people are beginning to find it easier to “ping” and tweet to their friends instead of simply sending a SMS.

Andrew Warner, the Founder of Mixergy.com expressly stated on his website that he passionately hates phone correspondence (that includes voice calls and text messaging).

The truth is that Social Media is gradually killing the already ageing Short Message Service. Asides the above argument, another signal to this coming revolution is the fact that custom made phones are gradually finding their way into the market. In November, Orange announced the introduction of their Facebook phone in Africa. Asides that, phones such as HTC ChaCha have dedicated Facebook buttons. As if those are not enough, Facebook itself is rumoured to be introducing their official Facebook phone called “Buffy”. Very soon, we might see manufacturers making phones either strictly built for social media or have deep Social Media Integration (there are some already, though).

Furthermore, Network providers in Nigeria are also rolling out special packages to their customers who are highly interested in Social Media. Etisalat for instance, recently announced free Facebook access for 30 days or so to their customers. Phones such as Blackberry (through its native BBM) and iPhone (via iMessage) are also signals to this revolution. Apps such as WhatsApp, Nimbuzz, 2Go and the likes are also taking over from SMS. All these technologies are gradually reducing the use of SMS in communication. Though, there’s still a long way to go.

To build a case for the short continuity of text messaging, I must admit that it’s not dead yet (but dying!). Considering that not everyone has said YES to Social Media, SMS will tarry until Social Media is probably fully adopted. It is also worthy of note that “Text me” is still more popular than “Tweet me”, at least in Nigeria.

You can read the full article over here

Technopreneur. Chief Hustler at 1Plify. PhD scholar [Technology entrepreneurship]

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