When a technology becomes so commoditized that getting through the day without it seems implausible it becomes a little harder to take a backward step and look at the lighter side of its value. Not many people sit back and consider interesting facts about water gas and electricity as a utility or even in a more contemporary environment the strange ways in which WIFI has impacted our day-to-day lives.
SMS is different. As a technology it was almost stumbled upon, a secondary bi product of mobile and cellular communication. The unexpected afterthought of efficient handheld dialogue, the welcome surprise that continues to deliver value at both consumer and enterprise level.
In 2012 the Philippines was the nation most obsessed with SMS, this text mad country surpassed every other region on the globe when it came to the sheer scale and volume of its appetite for text messaging, the BRB and LOL Pilipino equivalent led the way in consumer communications. In one day a resident of Manila might send over 180 texts whereas a resident in London may send less than 50. It is the French who’s joie de vie does not extend to SMS and texting with the average Frenchman sending between 15 and 20 text messages a day.
When it comes to public engagement on a macro level SMS is unrivalled. There is simply no other technology that can bulk the feedback of millions of people together, collate it, organize it, analyze it and communicate it in real time. This was demonstrated in 2002 when in a first of its kind the Eurovision song contest invited the public to vote for their favourite contestant in a live environment via text message and SMS service. Political alliances aside and strategic voting considered this new platform is thought to have reinvigorated what was ultimately a failing singing competition. No matter which country hosts this now annual spectacle the technology that provides public engagement across the entire continent is the simple text message. It seems that SMS and user experience creates a cheese agnostic environment.
One could not pen a piece on the idiosyncratic nature of the simple SMS without diving into the acronymic wonderland it has created. Teachers all over the planet are chewing on their chalk as the English language gets a battering and an army of new shortened communications techniques takes a vice like grip on the Symantec delivery of teenagers and adults alike. Here are just a few examples of the spawn of text. BRB – Be Right Back, LOL – Laugh Out Loud, ROTFL – Rolling On The Floor Laughing, LMAO- Laugh My Ass Off, OMG – Oh My God, XOXO – Hugs and Kisses and of course IMO – In my opinion. What we will continue to see however now that handsets are more sophisticated and that mobile phones are more than just phones with letters and numbers is the proliferation of the next generation of short cut to communicate feeling. The Emoji will turn the notch up on putting feelings into the ether, as it is easier than ever to share a picture of a pile of poo and let the world know what is on your mind.
We have explored the jovial and fun applications of the SMS, and we could research for hours the hilarious instances of misguided and inappropriate communication caused by the development of auto correct or the misuse of the keypad, but in truth SMS has added value at every level of society and in fact driven user feedback in a multitude of scenarios. In 2004 in the United Kingdom the then Prime Minister Tony Blair became the first leader to actually engage with voters using an SMS service. This had never been done before and it gave the Prime Minister and his potential electorate the opportunity to have a robust question and answer session without them being in the same room or even in the same city.
To conclude we really do need to thank the Text message for it most valuable and relied upon use. Who out there will not have encountered how fantastic SMS is as a tool to break up with a significant other. The opportunity to hide behind its robust wall, and send the dreaded its not you its me message is liberating. The can we just be friends text that arrives a few months into what we thought was THE relationship prevents us from exhibiting our true emotions and enables us to respond with a simple ROFLMAO.