Text messages still used by 1 in 3 people - 30 years after first SMS was sent

Study reveals the enduring popularity of the text message

A man uses a cell or mobile phones outside of Madinat Zayed Shopping centre in Abu Dhabi.
( Ryan Carter / The National )

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Text messages still play a big role in the daily lives of many, with almost one in three people sending and receiving SMS messages every day — 30 years after the first text was sent.

New figures show that, despite the range of available communications platforms, including services such as WhatsApp and Skype as well as social media, 20 per cent of people still use SMS as their default messaging medium.

Communications firm Infobip reported that 30 per cent of respondents to a survey said they sent text messages daily — with 54 per cent saying they used SMS as a way of reaching people who were not on other messaging platforms.

The first text message was sent by engineer Neil Papworth on December 3, 1992, and read simply: “Merry Christmas.”

“In the 30 years since SMS text messaging has been in use, messaging technology has expanded exponentially,” Infobip UK country manager Nikhil Shoorji said.

“Users now have an abundance of choice ranging from WhatsApp to Skype.

“While some might argue that SMS has lost ground in the messaging platform popularity race, the results of our research show quite the opposite.”

Not only does SMS still hold an important place in users’ everyday lives, Mr Shoorji said, it is also popular among the younger generations.

“This means that the power of SMS endures and will continue to be one of the core platforms for communications moving forward — something brands need to keep in mind or miss out on engaging with a sizeable share of their customer base,” he added.

Infobip’s research also found that 7 per cent of those surveyed said they had been dumped via text message and 1 per cent said they had been sacked.

Updated: December 03, 2022, 12:27 AM