The Redundancy of SMS

Mobile phone’s have changed so much in the last 10 years its not funny. Now one of the most common devices (along with your electronic car keys and your iPod) found in your pocket the humble mobile phone introduced many early players to the information game. Let’s explore its evolution.

 I was thinking back the other day to when I first got a mobile phone, an old Nokia 3210, back when I was 13. This reminiscing of my old phone lead me to think about the changing trends in mobile phone technology. I remember when the concept of video calling was science fiction and yet now everyone’s phone can do it (doesn’t mean we use it though.) At one stage all phones were black and white, now we have some quite stunning GUI’s such as the latest Symbian release, Android or the iPhone GUI. It use to be the most advance functionality of our phone was Snake 2 yet now the ability to download software and information on demand is a must and couldn’t be easier. The origins of Txt-talk began, as most phones only allowed you to send a maximum of a single sms message per an sms as opposed to now our multi-sms messages.

All of these things represent some quite drastic changes in mobile phone technology but I think over all there are two that radically stand out to me as ‘paradigm shifters’

1)      Mobile Phone Caps – This one is more on the carrier end then the actual phone technology. Mobile phone caps have radically shifted the way we interact with this technology. Why, you ask? Well up until the introduction of caps, mobile phone plans, to be completely honest, were just way to darn expensive. Unless you had a decent work plan or just had lots of cash you just couldn’t afford to call someone for a ‘chat’. I remember buying $15 top-ups for my prepaid phone and treasuring the single phone call I would make from it, choosing to spend the rest on SMS’s (a teenager’s primary form of communication!). With the introduction of caps I can now not worry about these things – the price of phone calls and SMS’s are essentially (in a roundabout way) dropped significantly. I now can make almost unlimited calls and SMS’s in a month and most of the time not care that I’m going anywhere near my cap limits.

2)      Mobile Internet – The second one is actually phone technology related. I remember when WAP was first being introduced. Being a web developer there was a lot of hype around this format yet see if you can meet someone who can tell you the last site they went to that uses it. Mobile Internet has evolved from nearly inexistent to a solution where you can now cost-effectively check your emails on your Blackberry or post a Facebook snap of you and your mates at the local pub.

The combination of these two ‘technological’ changes has led to the creation of devices that encompass completely the concept of ‘information-on-demand’. If you need to know something call, it costs you nothing. If you need to go to a website, go there – it costs you nothing.

This line of thinking started pushing me down another path though relating to how we currently use short message technology (or SMS). I now use SMSs a lot less than I use to, more to the fact a lot of the information I’m looking for can easily be achieved through jumping on my good old Opera Mini web browser on my mobile phone (My weapon of choice is now a Nokia N95), and hit up Twitter or Facebook. People check these services so often that most of the time if I’m trying to plan a night out all it takes is a ‘drinks up tonight?’ on the good old status change and then a flood (or a drizzle) of interest is generated. If I can’t get my information through one of the many social networking resources there is always calling someone up – it costs far less now and a lot less messy than these back and forth SMS conversations.

To be honest the amount of time we spend SMSing people I believe will significantly decrease from now on. With the rise of social networking we no longer want to interact with people on a purely ‘flat’ text plane. We want to see people, know what they are doing and what they have done, know who else is interacting with this person – we want this information, and we want it now on demand.

I can already see the progression – look what the iPhone does when you have an SMS conversation with someone. It displays it neatly as if you are having a ‘conversation.’

I think SMS technology is now just a legacy technology from a day where you would say ‘3G what?’ Soon enough we will be saying that about 2G phone calls. I’m waiting for the day when I have a phone that operates all phone calls using VOIP, that runs all my SMSs through Facebook PMs and all my images are auto loaded to my online profile. My current phone already has the ability to connect to Wireless network connections and then access the internet through it. Why can’t I just extend that and do everything through this connection? I already have SIP technology in the phone – we’re getting to a stage where it will be just as effective (if not more so) to scrap almost all the technology that mobile phones have given us and give into the net-ages buzzwords.

When will we consider SMS technology in the bucket of legacy and move on?


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