The Text Factor

SMS today reaches the ripe old age of 22 and this birthday shows it as technology truly capable of moving with the times. Developed in the 1980s as a part of the GSM standard, the first ever SMS with the words “Merry Christmas” wasn’t actually sent from a phone, but from a computer – up until this point, mobile phones hadn’t needed to support a messaging function.

It wasn’t until mobile operators dramatically improved the user experience in the late 90s and early 2000s that SMS really took off. Spearheading the development of SMS were the Scandinavian countries and the UK, but the global spread of messaging fever soon followed in a variety of ways. The SMS boom in the US, for example, came as text voting was introduced in the American Idol TV show.

Banks have also picked up on the fact that SMS is inherently secure, which has opened the gates for the financial industry to deploy an even wider range of applications through A2P SMS, including delivery of sensitive information.

The use of SMS does not stop there. This year in particular has thrust SMS into the spotlight, as high profile security breaches have seen a wide scale roll out of SMS based two-factor authentication due to its adoptability and simplicity. Rather than relying on an authenticator app or additional piece of hardware like a key fob, it immediately turns any mobile phone into an extra layer of security, which in the current climate is a major strength of SMS.  

It’s a robust channel that’s ideal for emergencies, allowing public services to broadcast information, or as a fall back option for mobile users when voice or data services are down. The growing numbers of cities and counties across the US rolling out text-to-911 services is just one example of how SMS is growing around the world.

To put it simply, SMS is not going anywhere. It might be 22 years old, but the way in which it continues to adapt and evolve marks it as a technology that will continue to stand the test of time.

Silvio Kutic, CEO, Infobip

 

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