SMS or Short Message Service is a form of text messaging which uses standardized communication protocols that let cellular devices exchange short messages. It’s a useful feature on mobile devices and can be used to facilitate a text-to-voice conversion for telephones.

This service lets mobile users send and receive text messages with a 160-alpha-numeric character limit to GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) mobiles. As it grew in popularity, it was used for mobile marketing, a form of direct marketing which is focused on reaching audiences through their smartphones and mobile devices.

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History of SMS

Early Developments (1985)

The initial development of SMS was a multinational collaboration of various network organizations. It was intended to be freely available worldwide and accessible as long as you had a mobile device that supports SMS.

The first SMS development proposal was contributed by both Germany and France in the GSM group meeting held in February 1985 in Oslo, Norway. It was further discussed by various major telecommunication companies in Europe.

To accommodate the growing SMS traffic, networks also developed a crucial element which was called the Short Message Service Center or SMSC. It was later on used to store, forward, convert, and deliver SMS messages. 

First SMS Message (1992)

The first SMS message in history was sent over the British GSM network, Vodafone in the United Kingdom in December 1992. It was sent by Neil Papworth using a personal computer to Richard Jarvis of Vodafone—who received it using an Orbitel 901 handset. The message contained the following text “Merry Christmas.

First Commercially-sold SMS (1993)

The SMS service Radiolinja by Finland was the first commercially-sold SMS service in the world. It featured a person-to-person text messaging service; however, Nokia was the only handset manufacturer that supported user-sending of SMS text messages. 

Based on Matti Makkonen, a former Nokia Engineer, the Nokia 2010 (released in 1994) was the first mobile phone to support handy SMS compositions.

Premium-rated Short Messages

Most mobile-terminated short messages can be used to deliver promotional content such as news alerts, logos, and ringtones. The first premium-rate content that was delivered through SMS was the first paid downloadable ringtones, commercially produced by Saunalahti in 1998.

Initially, only Nokia mobile phones support the said service. But, the ringtone business eventually grew successful as more phones were availing the service, garnering an approximate revenue of $5 Billion in 2008. Premium-rated short messages are now used for essential services, like online payments, ticket purchases, donations to charities, store catalogs, etc. 

Related services such as inbound SMS are used for various marketing campaigns, such as TV votings and product promotions. It’s also available worldwide, which is a great marketing tool and can be associated with many brands.

Threaded SMS

Threaded SMS is a styling orientation of SMS message history where it displays both sides of an SMS conversation on one screen. It was first developed by a BlackBerry developer that worked to apply the SMS client for their phones. 

It was originally developed to make use of the blank screen left below the message on a device that has a larger resolution and was influenced by threaded replies on email conversations.