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Drifting a little away from the regulars in our usual newsmaker list, we thought about giving importance to that one thing, the one service that changed our lives (forever!) – yes, the Short Message Service. We wish SMS a very happy birthday as it turns 20 today!

Phone conversations on the mobile were replaced by SMS filled with emoticons as friends, lovers and professionals raided this service as a storm.

But little do people know that this 160 character craze started with Neil Papworth, a 22-year-old British engineer, when he sent a text message from his computer to Vodafone's Richard Jarvis, "Merry Christmas" in 1992.

Part of a team developing a Short Message Service, Papworth said that the idea was to use text as an in-company paging service. Speaking to The Guardian, he said, "We thought SMS was a clever way for a company's staff to send simple messages to one another. I do get a kick out of being called a 'legend', once a year" he said, "even if at the time the achievement was nothing remarkable, I was just doing my job. It's been quite amazing to watch SMS grow from a simple way for secretaries to page their managers to all these innovative applications that rely on text messaging – voting on reality shows, tracking vehicles or packages and telling you when a plane has landed."

The SMS craze
The world of SMS allows folks to exchange points, engage in conversations without any peeking toms around them getting any inkling. Reports suggest that teenagers and women used this service to the maximum. According to a report, women send SMSs to each other discussing their relationships.

According to a 2008 report, Chennai tops the list in SMS penetration in India. The percentage of mobile users using SMS in Mumbai is 59%, Kolkata 63%, Bangalore 71%, Delhi 73% and Chennai 78%.

As per the report, In Chennai, around 80% of the mobile users, use SMS on their device, while in Mumbai it is the least at 60%. However, number of messages sent per day is relatively higher in Bangalore than any other city.

Interestingly number of SMS sent per day in Chennai is the lowest with an average of 1.6 messages though there is more number of SMS users. There is also difference based on gender. It was found that female sends more number of messages than their male counterpart. The average  number of messages sent by a female mobile user is around 4.2 per day.

The new lingo
The language people used while writing SMSs evolved as they avoided writing long words. Some of the words from the SMS lingo are-

LOL- Laugh Out Loud
BTW- By The Way
FYI- For Your Information
TC- Take Care
Thnx- Thanks
2mrw- Tomorrow
4- For
K- Okay
Gn sd- Good night and sweet dreams
XOXO- Hugs and kisses
GG- Got to go
ASAP- As Soon As Possible

Also, emoticons, a pictorial representation of facial expression using punctuation marks, numbers and letters became a rage. On a popular chat show, Bollywood actress and Miss World Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, admitted to using emoticons while resolving fights with her husband Abhishek Bachchan.

Threat from smartphones
With people taking to Blackberry services and whatsapp which offer easier and much more improved way of sharing information (also these services come for free with the smartphones!), SMS will soon become extinct. Also, these services offer more types of emoticons. With internet options available on these phones, GTalk and other Instant messaging usage is on the rise. Easy access to social networking and micro blogging websites like Facebook and Twitter has also reduced SMS consumption today.

Fun facts
Did you know that the word 'texting', we use so often is infact, not a word? Listed below are other fun facts about SMS.

  • According to an article on a website, about 200,000 text messages are sent (and received) every year per second.


  • Text messages were invented by Finnish engineer Matti Makkonen.


  • Text messaging’s main use at first was to inform subscribers of waiting voicemails.


  • In 1995, three years after their invention, an average user sent only one text every two and a half months.


  • 3 in 5 teenagers think 'sexting' (sending sexually explicit messages) is unsafe, but 1 in 5 do it anyway.


  • Texting is the second most common use for a phone – the first being checking the time.


  • 18-25 year olds send the most texts – on average 133 messages per week – almost double any other age group. Men communicate via text more than women, but send shorter messages.


  • Text messaging had overtaken speaking on a mobile phone and face-to-face contact as the most-used method of daily communication between friends and family.


  • The advent of text-speak according to reports would create problems with reading, writing and spelling in schoolchildren.

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Tag : #SMS #Smartphones

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