Text messaging is everywhere. Most people under 30 with a phone probably spend more time sending and reading texts than they do talking. The CTIA estimates that over 10 billion SMS (Short Messaging Service) messages were sent last year.
But just because texting is popular now doesn’t mean it’s going to be around forever.
Have you ever really thought about how very restrictive texting is? You have only 160 characters to work with, or about 25 words. And compared to other types of wireless communication, your wireless carrier really makes you pay through the nose for the privilege of sending those brief thoughts.
This is one of the reasons why increasing numbers of people are moving to mobile email. There’s no real limit on how long an email can be, so people actually have space to express themselves. And with the rise in popularity of unlimited wireless plans, people can send virtually unlimited numbers of messages. These unlimited plans include web surfing too, which many people want. So if you’re already paying for unlimited data which you can use for Web and email access, paying more for SMS service is pointless.
Interest in using Instant Messaging services on phones is growing, too. Many people currently use text messaging for IM, but that’s an easy way to burn through hundreds of messages shockingly quickly, and you’ll end up with a huge phone bill.
As these trends continue in the next few years, people in N. America and Europe will increasingly turn their backs on SMS. Five years from now, I predict that anyone in the U.S. getting a text will be surprised. U.S. carriers will turn the service off in less than 10 years.
It will continue to be used in some developing countries for longer than that, though. Wireless networks and most phones in those areas will still not be up to handling email, but this will be the exception rather than the rule.
Texting was created back in the 1990s because people wanted email on their phones, but the technology wasn’t available yet. That’s why engineers came up with a crippled version of email that phones could handle. The technology for full email access is available now, so SMS has really outlived its usefulness.
It will be gone in a few years and I for one won’t miss it.