GREAT, BUT LIMITED, FUTURE FOR SMS

As regular readers of this blog would know, predictions are so common in mobile marketing, it’s almost as if our discipline runs on speculation of what may or may not happen in the future! That’s not a bad way to go – without our eyes fixed on the horizon we wouldn’t make any progress. Future fixation can’t be worse than living in the past or worse, living for the moment without any hint of some planning going on. This brings me to speculation about the health or otherwise of the mobile marketer’s erstwhile favourite cellular network bearer, SMS. The text message is probably responsible for the scary fast growth of GSM around the globe. Before consumers cottoned on to this low-cost network engineer testing tool, mobile was really just your home phone without copper wire. Seriously. That’s how people viewed cellphones: they were just souped-up car phones and the home phone remained telecom numero uno. It was SMS that really made us all think about the non-voice-based potential applications of mobile. But now after a massive flirtation with the short text message, those in the know have been predicting its demise for the better part of two to three years – at least – now. I tend to differ in this assertion. It’s clear the numbers do not favour SMS. But, what’s happening is that SMS is simply returning to its business-based role. SMS has a solid future as a reliable bearer of mostly once-off business-to-consumer communication. Who can deny that SMS is the OTP (one-time password) king? And there are dozens of good, solid SMS-based applications that are being well used out there. SMS will continue to be around for a very long time because of some simple truths. Consumers trust it, for one. These days, all manner of dodgy person or business seems to be attempting to add mobile consumers to their WhatsApp contacts. With SMS, an unwanted message is just that – an unwanted, once-off message to be easily deleted. With WhatsApp, for example, a similar attempted contact situation feels like an invasion of privacy. SMS is robust, it is credible and trusted by consumers. Text messages with valuable information sent to consumers by their banks, insurance firms, and others, are easily stored in inboxes for later action. SMS is a manual gearbox, its a revolver, your dad’s car, and real buttons instead of a glass screen. It’s good, solid, dependable. And set to be with us for a very long time.

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