The Evolution of SMS

On December 3rd, 1992, the first ever SMS message was sent from Neil Papworth’s computer to Richard Jarvis’ mobile phone. It read “Merry Christmas” and Jarvis had no way of replying. Within a year, Nokia produced the first handset that enabled SMS messaging as a primary function and within a year of that, networks began offering person-to-person SMS messaging. This development saw the average US user send 0.4 text messages per month in 1995 with numbers reportedly increasing by 7,700 % over the last decade.

Evolution of SMS

Despite the fierce and growing competition in the instant messaging space, this isn’t the death of SMS.  While SMS may no longer be the first choice when it comes to person to person communications, in the enterprise sector the use of it for customer engagement, is accelerating fast – and with good reason. Whilst instant messaging apps may have improved functionality, SMS remains the most accessible and universally recognised messaging platform. It works on every handset and on any network, and is also the most used feature on any mobile device, making it suitable for all business and mission critical communications. It is for this reason that businesses across multiple vertical sectors like financial, retail and healthcare are increasingly turning to SMS.  Over the last few years, there has been huge growth in the so-called A2P (application-to- person) message traffic, which analyst mobileSQUARED predicts will increase to 2.80 trillion messages in 2022, up from 1.67 trillion just last year.

And as technology evolves, so does the use of SMS. The introduction of technical solutions, such as the SMS API, has made A2P messaging so versatile that it is even being used to activate and monitor home security systems. This improved functionality has resulted in SMS being used as an effective communication tool for many different reasons, including:

The monitoring of laboratory equipment via machine to machine messaging

  • Improving communications between organisations and their members, and even medical practitioners and their patients;
  • Delivering space weather alerts;
  • Aiding in fundraising and conservation efforts;
  • Sending competitors personalised race information days before a sporting event;
  • Providing instant feedback and status updates in the IT industry;
  • Enhancing payment security through two factor authentication.

The success of SMS is undeniable. From its once simple use, SMS has evolved into a multifaceted communication platform that is accepted and used by thousands of businesses, individuals and organisations across the globe.

So, what does the future hold for SMS?

Dr. Pieter Streicher, managing director of, is confident that A2P SMS will continue to grow. He believes that, “despite the popularity of instant messaging (IM) applications, SMS messaging has become an increasingly popular tool for business communication, particularly for business to consumer (B2C) communication. IM is not suited for B2C communication as most consumers prefer to use these applications purely for social purposes. In addition, the IM space is constantly changing, and in 5 years might look very different to today. SMS, on the other hand, will remain a reliable and stable platform for years to come.”