Welcome!

Wearables Authors: Roger Strukhoff, Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Anders Wallgren

Related Topics: Mobile IoT, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Agile Computing, Wearables, BlackBerry Developer

Mobile IoT: Article

What’s Next for Texting?

Before we plot the future of texting, it’s helpful to understand its history

Twenty years ago, a software engineer named Neil Papworth kicked off the holidays - and a communications revolution - by sending the world's first text message via phone. The message, appropriately enough, was "Merry Christmas."

It took a few more Christmases before text messaging caught on, but ever since we've been able to send text messages to subscribers on different mobile operator networks, it has been nothing but thumbs up for texting. Thanks to the rise in mobile subscriptions, the usage of texting has skyrocketed in recent years. In 2011, for the first time in history, text messaging surpassed voice as the most popular application for mobile phones.

And then the unexpected happened: the number of text messages sent in the U.S. actually declined between the second and third quarter of 2012, according to published reports. It was a small decline, mind you, on the scale of two percent or so. For a technology where quantum annual leaps in usage have been the norm, however, a two-percent decline has the potential to be huge.

Let's make a few assumptions, including that the report is accurate (and it is worth noting that some don't agree). Let's also assume this isn't a one-time anomaly. What does a slight decline really mean? There are a few popular theories:

Theory #1: We've reached a saturation point for text messaging.
There are always some people who will grow tired of a technology after a few years, whether it's text messaging or social media. (Remember when people were leaving Facebook a few years ago?) Text messaging continues to rise where it counts. Younger demographics, like 12-to-15-year-olds who represent the paying customers of tomorrow, continue to be text junkies.

Theory #2: New apps like Skype are eating into the texting market.
Skype poses more of a threat to traditional voice services - not surprising since that's what it was originally designed to displace. The Skype application has to be loaded on the device and active to have a conversation. Text messaging uses a standards-based protocol, so any device assigned a mobile number can send and receive text messages right out of the box.

Theory #3: Text messaging is getting too expensive.
Pay-per-use plans may have kept more people with their thumbs and cash in their pockets. Operators responded with fixed-price, unlimited-usage plans. In the U.S., you can get unlimited calling and texting for under $40 a month, making it affordable to practically anyone.

The fourth possibility is one I see in my own household. Texting is no longer constrained to communications between mobile networks. Many devices are able to send and receive text messages through an Internet connection. Apple's iMessage or Blackberry Messenger are great examples of this trend.

In fact, text messaging has never really stopped evolving. The idea of measuring the value of text messaging by the quantity of messages sent over the mobile network may ultimately sell the technology short.

Before we plot the future of texting, it's helpful to understand its history. Texting grew out of a technology known as Short Message Service (SMS). SMS originally allowed a person to send data-based communications to a mobile phone over the signaling channel rather than the more bandwidth-precious media channel. In fact, in the beginning, mobile phones could not send SMS messages. Nokia was the first manufacturer with a suite of GSM phones to support SMS messaging. Finally as the 20th century came to a close, you were able to send text messages between mobile networks, ushering in the any-to-any text messaging environment that we enjoy today.

In 2000, the average U.S. mobile phone user sent nearly 35 text messages per month. By 2007, text messages outnumbered phone calls. And in 2011, text eclipsed voice as the top application for mobile devices in the U.S. Despite the rapid rise in popularity, the underlying technology behind texting remained largely unchanged. Texts still relied on SMS and limited communications to the same 160-character confines established (somewhat arbitrarily) more than two decades ago. Innovation hasn't been the driver for the adoption of this communication method. Rather, texting's popularity can be traced to contributing market factors, few of which were imagined 20 years ago.

Smartphones, Social Media and Number Portability
Text messaging on a standard cellphone was hit or miss, which meant you hoped you hit the right key when typing your message. Then came BlackBerries and iPhones - smartphones that combined the elements of a laptop computer (complete with an operating system and independent keyboard) and a mobile phone. Suddenly, millions of people were finding a new use for those opposable thumbs. The convenience of texting combined with the constant presence of smartphones (unlike laptops, smartphones seldom leave our sides) made it a preferred choice over traditional email. Early studies proved that people were more likely to read a text rather than an email.

Social media platforms, notably Twitter, also played to the strengths of text messaging by encouraging short, frequent communications in favor of longer, fewer conversations. In fact, Twitter even found SMS to be a bit longwinded, trimming the maximum length of a tweet to a svelte 140 characters. People rediscovered their pithy side as vowels slowly began disappearing from the language, all the while fueling the legitimacy of texting as a form of creative and personal expression.

A less obvious but no less important factor in the rise of texting was the creation of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. This act allows consumers to keep their phone numbers when choosing a new Communications Service Provider (CSP) - even when switching from a wireline to a wireless provider. By allowing phone customers to move their phone numbers freely between CSPs, Americans had unprecedented freedom of communication. Mobile phones, once viewed as a supplemental service to a primary landline, instead became the primary phone service for many customers who found they could keep their identity and cut their costs by going mobile 24/7. In a world where smartphones have an average lifespan of two years, the ability to upgrade your phone and change your service without changing your phone number can't be undervalued.

Texting: The Next 20 Years
I don't believe texting is going away. Anyone with teenage children knows exactly what I mean. Rather, I think it's changing to become a more ubiquitous form of communication. You see, we live in a world where communications overload is a fact of life. We have RSS feeds at the bottom of our TV screens, we text while we talk, we carry phones with built-in video cameras. In a world where everyone is making noise, the challenge is to rise above the noise. And I think that's where texting fits in the future: as a way to cut through the noise.

Take for example a technology like Common Short Codes (CSCs), which can replace a standard phone number with a four-digit number for the purpose of sending text messages. You've seen these used on television programs that encourage audience voting (e.g., American Idol, Dancing with the Stars), but CSCs are increasingly being purchased by businesses to aid in text-based marketing efforts. Right now, you're probably thinking - Great, more marketing, just what the world needs. In fact, text-based marketing is exactly what the world needs. This form of marketing allows businesses and their customers to have meaningful conversations based on customer-selected criteria. In other words, you're not just another name on an email distribution list. With CSC-based marketing, consumers select the kind of communications they receive, how they receive them and engage businesses on their own terms.

For the time being, text messaging has a distinct advantage over other forms of communication when it comes to consumer marketing. On the one hand, they're less intrusive than voice calls, which are often perceived as cold (in the case of pre-recorded calls) or overly aggressive live calls. And, because the industry has set guidelines for the use of text messaging, issues like spamming have so far proven to be limited.

When I talk to CSPs, I hear excitement in their voices when they talk about the future of text messaging. They see texting as a real revenue driver, especially from business customers who are just beginning to explore the value of mobile communications. These CSPs understand that communication isn't about which service you use the most (texting, voice, video) but how you use those services to stay connected to the world around you.

Is texting over the hill at 20? Doubtful. As a society, we are hooked on the direct and real-time communication enabled by texting. Our mobile devices unlock a world of possibilities and the deciding factor is typically convenience. In the first 20 years of SMS, we went from a simple intra-network "Merry Christmas" to accessibility on any network. It is possible that the next 20 years will bring us ubiquitous texting across many applications including personal communications, opt-in business uses and a burgeoning machine-to-machine environment.

More Stories By Gary Zimmerman

Gary Zimmerman is Senior Director of Marketing at Neustar. He and his team deliver the educational and outbound marketing efforts for Carrier Services. He has over 30 years of experience in telecommunications management in both the carrier and enterprise setting.

Gary spent twenty years at AT&T where he developed ordering, billing, and international clearinghouse systems. He has successfully launched and managed products including international data services for global 500 companies, a software-as-a-service offering in Japan, and data networking / security offerings for the mid-market.

Prior to joining Neustar, Gary was a Vice President and founding member of an enterprise software company that grew into a $30 million dollar concern during his tenure.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
Digital innovation is the next big wave of business transformation based on digital technologies of which IoT and Big Data are key components, For example: Business boundary innovation is a challenge to excavate third-party business value using IoT and BigData, like Nest Business structure innovation may propose re-building business structure from scratch, as Uber does in the taxicab industry The social model innovation is also a big challenge to the new social architecture with the design fr...
In this strange new world where more and more power is drawn from business technology, companies are effectively straddling two paths on the road to innovation and transformation into digital enterprises. The first path is the heritage trail – with “legacy” technology forming the background. Here, extant technologies are transformed by core IT teams to provide more API-driven approaches. Legacy systems can restrict companies that are transitioning into digital enterprises. To truly become a lea...
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
Major trends and emerging technologies – from virtual reality and IoT, to Big Data and algorithms – are helping organizations innovate in the digital era. However, to create real business value, IT must think beyond the ‘what’ of digital transformation to the ‘how’ to harness emerging trends, innovation and disruption. Architecture is the key that underpins and ties all these efforts together. In the digital age, it’s important to invest in architecture, extend the enterprise footprint to the cl...
Data is an unusual currency; it is not restricted by the same transactional limitations as money or people. In fact, the more that you leverage your data across multiple business use cases, the more valuable it becomes to the organization. And the same can be said about the organization’s analytics. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bill Schmarzo, CTO for the Big Data Practice at EMC, will introduce a methodology for capturing, enriching and sharing data (and analytics) across the organizati...
Adobe is changing the world though digital experiences. Adobe helps customers develop and deliver high-impact experiences that differentiate brands, build loyalty, and drive revenue across every screen, including smartphones, computers, tablets and TVs. Adobe content solutions are used daily by millions of companies worldwide-from publishers and broadcasters, to enterprises, marketing agencies and household-name brands. Building on its established design leadership, Adobe enables customers not o...
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long dev...
IoT offers a value of almost $4 trillion to the manufacturing industry through platforms that can improve margins, optimize operations & drive high performance work teams. By using IoT technologies as a foundation, manufacturing customers are integrating worker safety with manufacturing systems, driving deep collaboration and utilizing analytics to exponentially increased per-unit margins. However, as Benoit Lheureux, the VP for Research at Gartner points out, “IoT project implementers often ...
Why do your mobile transformations need to happen today? Mobile is the strategy that enterprise transformation centers on to drive customer engagement. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Roger Woods, Director, Mobile Product & Strategy – Adobe Marketing Cloud, covered key IoT and mobile trends that are forcing mobile transformation, key components of a solid mobile strategy and explored how brands are effectively driving mobile change throughout the enterprise.
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life sett...
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kausik Sridharabalan, founder and CTO of Pulzze Systems, Inc., will focus on key challenges in building an Internet of Things solution infrastructure. He will shed light on efficient ways of defining interactions within IoT solutions, leading to cost and time reduction. He will also introduce ways to handle data and how one can develop IoT solutions that are lean, flexible and configurable, thus making IoT infrastructure agile and scalable.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Bsquare has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For more than two decades, Bsquare has helped its customers extract business value from a broad array of physical assets by making them intelligent, connecting them, and using the data they generate to optimize business processes.
Businesses are struggling to manage the information flow and interactions between all of these new devices and things jumping on their network, and the apps and IT systems they control. The data businesses gather is only helpful if they can do something with it. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Witeck, Principal Technology Strategist at Citrix, will discuss how different the impact of IoT will be for large businesses, expanding how IoT will allow large organizations to make their legacy ap...
Video experiences should be unique and exciting! But that doesn’t mean you need to patch all the pieces yourself. Users demand rich and engaging experiences and new ways to connect with you. But creating robust video applications at scale can be complicated, time-consuming and expensive. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Zohar Babin, Vice President of Platform, Ecosystem and Community at Kaltura, will discuss how VPaaS enables you to move fast, creating scalable video experiences that reach your ...
There are several IoTs: the Industrial Internet, Consumer Wearables, Wearables and Healthcare, Supply Chains, and the movement toward Smart Grids, Cities, Regions, and Nations. There are competing communications standards every step of the way, a bewildering array of sensors and devices, and an entire world of competing data analytics platforms. To some this appears to be chaos. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, Bradley Holt, Developer Advocate a...
24Notion is full-service global creative digital marketing, technology and lifestyle agency that combines strategic ideas with customized tactical execution. With a broad understand of the art of traditional marketing, new media, communications and social influence, 24Notion uniquely understands how to connect your brand strategy with the right consumer. 24Notion ranked #12 on Corporate Social Responsibility - Book of List.
The vision of a connected smart home is becoming reality with the application of integrated wireless technologies in devices and appliances. The use of standardized and TCP/IP networked wireless technologies in line-powered and battery operated sensors and controls has led to the adoption of radios in the 2.4GHz band, including Wi-Fi, BT/BLE and 802.15.4 applied ZigBee and Thread. This is driving the need for robust wireless coexistence for multiple radios to ensure throughput performance and th...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftLayer, an IBM Company, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. SoftLayer, an IBM Company, provides cloud infrastructure as a service from a growing number of data centers and network points of presence around the world. SoftLayer’s customers range from Web startups to global enterprises.
If you had a chance to enter on the ground level of the largest e-commerce market in the world – would you? China is the world’s most populated country with the second largest economy and the world’s fastest growing market. It is estimated that by 2018 the Chinese market will be reaching over $30 billion in gaming revenue alone. Admittedly for a foreign company, doing business in China can be challenging. Often changing laws, administrative regulations and the often inscrutable Chinese Interne...
Information technology is an industry that has always experienced change, and the dramatic change sweeping across the industry today could not be truthfully described as the first time we've seen such widespread change impacting customer investments. However, the rate of the change, and the potential outcomes from today's digital transformation has the distinct potential to separate the industry into two camps: Organizations that see the change coming, embrace it, and successful leverage it; and...