SMS celebrates 20th Birthday

Mobile phones are part of our daily lives, there’s no doubt about that. SMS is one of the main reasons for this. The concept still astounds me. It’s hard to imagine life without it.

If you’re constantly using SMS to message your friends and family you should bake a cake and light 20 candles because SMS turns 20 years old today!

The world’s first SMS was sent via Vodafone UK’s GSM network on the 3rd of December 1992. The message was received on an Orbitel 901 handset and said “Merry Christmas”. The person who sent the message was Neil Papworth (a Vodaphone UK employee). He was trying to prove that SMS works outside the lab where they were developing it.

The first commercial deployment of a SMS service centre was launched in Sweden in 1993. Since then service centres have popped up all over the globe and by 2004 the number of SMS messages being sent annually already reached the 500 billion mark. By 2010 this number had gone up to 6.1 trillion.

Today SMS is the most widely used data application on earth. It’s estimated that more than 3.6 billion people use SMS actively every single day – that’s 78% of all mobile phone users on the planet.  It’s one of the reasons that cell phones has become the major telecommunication medium in South Africa and Africa. According to 2011 figures there are more than 50 million mobile phone users in South Africa. To put things in perspective: there are only 10 million South African internet users and less than 4 million landline phones in the country.

Junk Mail has been embracing the SMS revolution since 2002. Users are able to place adverts on Junk Mail via SMS since then. For details about this, read our post about placing an advert via SMS on this blog.

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Watch this space for regular updates in the General News category on this blog.

Henno Kruger

Digital Marketing Campaign Coordinator at Junk Mail Publishing.

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