The decline, fall and potential rebirth of SMS in a world dominated by Smart phones






I am not a fan of SMS per se

Over the last few years, we have seen a decline of SMS and I see that this will continue and now we see that Samsung releases ChatON on iOS to compete with iMessage, WhatsApp etc. I see this as a wider, disruptive trend where device vendors will continue to release such chat type applications and customers will continue to use them

Thus, while SMS will continue to grow, the rate of growth will decline.

For the Operators, SMS has been a lucrative opportunity but I believe, it has been a missed opportunity because SMS is not a platform. By that, I mean, it is relatively expensive and complex to ‘embed’ SMS and the bulk rates for SMS continue to be high

Hence we see the live blogging cat via twitter (and not SMS) – i.e. SMS is not an enabler for grassroots/long tail applications.

It is already declining in  it’s role as the primary communication mechanism in a world dominated by smart phones .. but could SMS see a rebirth?

If SMS bulk rates dropped and it became a platform, then it could have a far greater utility

Rail reservations in India could be an example.  India rail booking by mobile. I believe(but cannot confirm) that it is enabled by SMS.

In any case, SMS could be the driver for mass scale applications like these – but we will see the rebirth of SMS only if the Operators drop the bulk rates for SMS and make it developer friendly

Image source: Mashable



  1. Nadeem says:

    As far as I know, the Indian Railways mobile booking system is web-based, i.e. it requires the user to have a data connection.

  2. simon cavill says:

    I’d say that USSD has the capability to take over from SMS, especially for simple eCommerce apps outside the high-speed broadband world…