The Simple Message Service, better known as SMS (Short Message Services), has been 25 years old, buried under the explosive popularity of instant messaging applications such as WhatsApp or Telegram, which have relegated the old-fashioned notes to the background. of text. [Graph produced by Statista]
«Merry Christmas» was the brief content of the first SMS in history, sent on December 3, 1992 by the Canadian engineer Neil Papworth from his computer to the telephone of Richard Jarvis, Vodafone executive, through this network of mobile terminals.
The service as such had been devised by a Finnish engineer, Matti Makkonen, to work as part of the GSM technology (Global System for Mobile Communications) and implemented by Nokia, which during the 1990s was became the undisputed leader of this sector in the world market.
SMS messaging became popular throughout its first ten years of life, gave way to the creation of the first emoticons and even generated a new language among young people, who compressed words and expressions to adapt to the limited space available in each note. The character limit arose from a market study that determined that the average used in both postcards and the telex service used by business agents did not exceed 150.
In 2012 approximately 15 million SMS messages were sent every minute and a study by the company Acision rated them as the “most popular” form of communication despite the competition of e-mail and messaging on social networks, since a 92 % of their respondents still preferred them. The situation changed following the popularization of WhatsApp, an application initially created in 2009 for BlackBerry devices, which later became available for the Apple iPhone and also for Android phones.
Users left the SMS en masse by having many more options available than simple text notes: write unlimited space, chat, incorporate all kinds of emoticons, record audio messages and even make phone calls through data. The growing use of other instant messaging systems such as WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook Messenger or, more recently, Telegram (created by Russian brothers Nikolay and Pavel Durov in 2013) has ended up cornering SMS, whose use is decreasing.
However, according to the general director of the cybersecurity company F5 Networks, Álex López, perhaps the reason that keeps them alive today is the security and integrity of their communications since “although anonymity is something difficult to achieve today in day, SMS does not have an intermediary between sender and receiver ». Any modern IM system is much more likely to be intercepted because “the company receives the user’s message and stores it; then, it sends it to its addressee »so that the possibilities of being intervened by an unauthorized person are greater.
In addition, the service of these systems is not so reliable; WhatsApp, for example, has suffered several temporary and massive downturns during the last months, while the SMS infrastructure remains on the strength of the different telephone operators that, in addition, “practically give away the service because they have it amortized after so many years generating good part of your income ».