Some technologies become so integral to our lives that we forget that there was time before that technology existed. Today it is difficult to imagine a time before the telephone/mobile, television, or the internet even for people within whose lifetime these technologies really exploded the marketplace.
SMS or texting is one such thing that seems to have been around forever. Invented in 1992, this year marks the 20th birthday of this multi-utility service that has not only left lasting impressions on our language, but brought services such as banking to the doorstep of some of the remotest places on earth. Where physical banks cannot exist (for budgetary, logistical, resource or such other reasons), the SMS/mobile banking reach has increased the banking penetration in countries in Africa and rural areas of India and China as well. For example, a migrant from a remote corner of Bihar working in Mumbai can now transfer money to his family through a simple SMS. The Indian farmer also has some amazing uses for the SMS where he can get help about farming, crop patterns, fertilizer usage, weather etc. on his mobile phone and plan his activities accordingly. The entertainment industry has cashed in on the SMS trend and today, no reality show or sports show is complete without SMS based voting. Both, Indian and American television is flooded with SMS votes on its numerous reality programs.
With the advent of other messaging services such as the BBM, Skype, twitter and facebook, it is believed that SMS/texting would die out. While some research shows that texting in the US has gone down – with teenagers still being the biggest texters – it has a long way to go before dying out. The market in Africa, India and China is still wide open for the SMS to thrive.
Have you come across any unique uses for the SMS? I would love you hear about them.