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The bitter SMS quarter of the century

Short text messages turn 25 years but more than half of users never use them

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The bitter SMS quarter of the century

Just 25 years ago, on December 3, 1992, first SMS was sent. But anniversary of short messaging service can be no more bitter. The popularization of online messaging applications like WHATSAPP has condemned text messages to an abrupt decline. In fact, 58.2% of mobile phone users no longer send an SMS, according to latest data from National Commission of Markets and Competition (CNMC).

When Vodafone programmer Neil Papworth sent a simple message ("Happy Christmas") to his colleague Richard Javis from his office in Newbury (UK) could not think that years later SMS would revolutionize way of communicating inhabitants of Planet.

At first, it was just a funny invention and almost geek, Vodafone employees used to communicate with each or. It was not until 1999 when operators commercially launched SMS service as an alternative source of revenue, in addition to main business of calls.

For technical reasons at beginning and to increase income n, operators limited to 150 characters size of SMS, long before Twitter made famous its 140 characters by tweet. The users began to perceive advantages of this new system, which avoided calls, many more expensive, although SMS cost in Spain 25 cents.

In 2007, a record number of 13,425,000,000 SMS was sent. In 2016, it was barely 1.5 billion.

To save characters, a new language was invented, full of abbreviations, acronyms and acronyms that were made by young, but which aroused ire of teachers of language and of Real Academy itself. In middle of first decade of 2000, SMS reached its peak. They sent 15 million SMS every minute worldwide, and it was, by far, most profitable service for operators, as ir cost was close to zero when occupying barely bandwidth.

The IPhone was beginning of end

But emergence of smartphones in 2007, with first iPhone to head, which allowed Internet connection thanks to new 3 G networks, began to mark decline of SMS. The messaging apps appeared as WHATSAPP, whose main advantage in SMS was ir gratuity. So users soon passed on to this new form of communication.

The figures give good proof of that fall in disgrace of already old text message. In 2006 was marked record of sending SMS in Spain, with 13,425,000,000 short messages. Since n, SMS have lost importance year after year, to point that in 2016 only 1.563 billion SMS were sent, according to data produced from quarterly reports of CNMC.

The mobile phone companies also lost bargain. In 2007, SMS reported a revenue of 1.743 billion euros, compared to 161 million euros invoiced in 2016. In fact, practically all of operators already include free SMS in ir flat rates or in ir convergent packages.

SMS have definitely lost favor of users. In Spain, 58.2% of mobile phone subscribers never send m and only 3% use m regularly. The WhatsApp along with social networks have become rival and executioner of SMS. 60.7% of users send several WhatsApp every day and only 17% declares never use this app to communicate, according to Panel of households developed by National Commission of Markets and Competition (CNMC).

As experts of Vodafone point out, SMS is going to have a residual use or, at least much more limited. By companies that want to make mass shipments of information to clients, to make donations to humanitarian campaigns or by some users to make a first contact or that y want to send a message with more formal character.

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