Work and Life in the Mobile Society/Technology/Messaging

What is the future of mobile messaging?

SMS stands for Short Messaging Service, a communication protocol mainly used on cell phones, enabling the transmission of text messages usually limited to 140 characters. It is believed the first SMS was sent in 1992,[1] on an experimental basis, as very few phones at the time were equipped to receive text messages. SMS did not really take hold for good until about 2000. At the time, Internet chat services (such as ICQ) started offering the possibility of texting to cell-phone users, thereby extending the use of this medium to the non cell-phone using public. Nowadays, most messaging applications bridge the gap to mobile users. SMS is now widely used as a very large percentage of the wireless population have access to this service.



It can be said that SMS gave birth to its own dialect, as people came up with ways of abbreviating their spelling making it less tedious to use a typical phone keypad. In some cases, SMS has made such a large imprint in peoples' lives, that some conduct a lot of their social business through texting: "do U take me to B yr lawful...", "4evrUrz", "URHstry!" - yes, people get fired or ditched through SMS![2] However, some are concerned that this dialect has a polluting effect on everyday written word as "txt" expressions are leaking into mainstream usage: it is not uncommon for many SMS users to drop expressions like "Gr8", "BTW", "How R U?" in written communications such as e-mail, chat sites or even class papers[3] (the nerve!) where they are not necessarily warranted. People have taken to task this phenomenon.[4]



You know a medium has come of age when the spammers and scammers are in on the act. These days people are getting spam and phishing SMS in volume,[5] which also gives rise to another problem. Lately, some mobile carriers have started charging for incoming messages,[6] which is causing users to consider dropping the option (if they can't switch carriers altogether). Another threat is also present in SMS's younger sibling, MMS (for Multimedia Messaging Service), by which users can transmit and receive other content such as pictures, sound files and short video clips. Hackers have come up with ways of contaminating MMS transmissions with worms.[7]

The Future of Messaging


SMS is widely used right now, but it has already declined in parts of the world where it is slowly being supplanted by mobile e-mail services,[8] such as the one offered by Blackberry. The possibilities that 3G is offering will also have an impact, as the adoption of this standard has increased bandwidth availability and is decreasing per-byte transmission fees. SMS and MMS as protocols are already doomed, destined to be replaced by wireless e-mail. However, for better or for worse, txt is er 2 stA.


  1. txtN cn B a powerful 2l 4 gud or 4 ill, Allen G. Breed, Globe and Mail, [1]
  2. Lingo 2 Word, reference site for txt definitions, [2]
  3. The Death of English (LOL), Lily Huang, Newsweek, [3]
  4. Comité de lutte contre le langage SMS et les fautes volontaires sur Internet [4]
  5. Scammers introduce ATM skimmers with built-in SMS notification, Dancho Danchev, ZDNet [5]
  6. Bell, Telus customers to pay for incoming text messages, CBC News, [6]
  7. Les vers se propagent aussi par MMS, Grégory Le Bras, Virustraq, [7]
  8. The History of SMS Messaging, Text Messaging Center, [8]