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June 10, 2014

The evolution of texting: SMS to MIM

The lowly text message is looking a lot different lately, don’t you think?


Once just a basic way to convey a quick missive (“How RU?”), simple short-message service (SMS) has evolved into a hugely powerful connection tool.

Mobile instant-messaging (MIM) apps such as WhatsApp, Tango and SnapChat are stuffed with bells and whistles such as geo-location, the ability to record and send video, audio and photos, and even share web content. In short, these new messaging services give us the variety and customization that the communication generation crave.

For one thing, MIM is cheaper than SMS. It uses broadband or Wi-Fi to send messages rather than a cell phone’s mobile network. After all, if you send dozens of text messages a day, why waste your monthly allocation (or even pay for it), when you can do it for free?


The Rise of MIM
Many of us have jumped on the MIM bandwagon. In fact, by the end of 2014, the worldwide volume of instant messages may be more than double that of traditional SMS messages; 50 billion versus 21-billion messages per day, according to a recent study by financial-advisory services firm Deloitte.

Soon, instant-messaging could be one of the main ways people communicate. Period.

“In 2014, it is very likely that trillions of MIMs will be sent in place of a text message,” the report went on to say. “But it is also very likely that, billions of times per day, MIMs will also be sent in place of email, tweets, or other forms of communication such as phone and video calls.”


The landscape for messaging – whether it’s SMS or MIM – will continue to develop; how will it adapt with the rise of virtual personal assistants such as Cortana, for instance?

Only time will tell, but what has stayed with us over thousands of years is the written word – whether it’s ink on paper or pixels on an adaptive touchscreen.

SMS: Still in the Game
But don’t count out SMS just yet! While usage is falling, SMS still generates 50 times more revenue – about $100 billion in 2014 alone – than mobile instant-messaging. All those pennies per text add up!


SMS also enjoys ubiquity. Unlike WhatsApp and similar apps, which require subscription so that you and your friends and family can text each other, traditional SMS doesn’t care what platform or device you use. And if you live in a rural area where mobile broadband is sparse to non-existent, SMS is the only game in town.


That omnipresence means you can leverage SMS to do things on a large scale. That includes voting (whether for an official or the next winner of The X Factor), organizing protests (such as in Mozambique), and sending emergency alerts. Of course, SMS is flexible enough so you can do things on a small scale, such as pay for your monthly car insurance or your daily cup of joe.

Or simply to text your friends: “Thx 4 reading. xoxo.”

So which messaging service do you use? SMS? MIM? Or a combination of both?