Since the mobile phone was first introduced in 1973, it has revolutionised the way in which people communicate with one another. Previously communication required either a fixed landline telephone or a face-to-face conversation, but as a result communication could often be logistically problematic. A landline owner may not always be at home to receive the call, and face-to-face communication is not always a possibility. Mobile phones bridged this gap, allowing people to communicate vocally or non-vocally via mobile messaging regardless of geographical location. In this day and age, communication can take place virtually anywhere and everywhere as long as your mobile phone can receive a signal.
However over the last decade there has been a decline in overall voice communication and an increase in non-vocal communication such as SMS messaging. Research by Nielsen1 has shown that the average teenager sends over 3300 SMS messages each month with other studies showing that SMS messaging usage has surpassed that of verbal speech and is the feature that mobile phone owners use the most. Facts such as these indicate that mobile messaging is largely taking over as the primary means of mobile communication, especially in the younger generation who have been raised surrounded by the technology since birth. The uses of SMS also span further than the purely personal. Businesses use SMS marketing as a means of attracting attention to current offers and deals for a wide number of reasons. For instance SMS messages are more likely to be read than emails and are likely to yield a much better response than cold calling or automated adverts left on voice-mails.
Yet it is important to remember that SMS messaging is not the only means of communication on mobile phones. With the rise of smart phones and the increasing availability of mobile internet, a wide range of ways to communicate have emerged. Applications such as WhatsApp, Viber and Ping allow smart phone users to exchange messages and phone calls free of charge. As long as the application is installed, users can communicate with one another at no extra cost. This is because applications such as Viber and WhatsApp use the same internet allowance that usually comes pre-paid with a mobile phone contract and do not require an additional “in application” purchase. Such applications have a range of benefits over traditional SMS and voice calls; social arrangements for example are much easier to arrange as messages about events are received and replied to almost instantaneously.
Because of the widespread availability of these applications it could be argued that non-vocal forms of communication have exceeded voice calls as the primary form of mobile communication. Social lives are much easier to organise and plans can be arranged much faster than they were in the past. The voice call still has its uses and it should be noted that all these new applications still offer the option of verbally communicating with other users. Viber for example boasts voice calls of a superior sound quality than that of the standard telephone call. Such throwbacks to the past however do not disguise that personal SMS messaging for individuals and SMS marketing for businesses still appear to be the future of mobile communication.
This is an article submitted by guest writer David Veibl. David is writing on behalf of Silverstreet, a specialist in Mobile Messaging (SMS) with global MT termination options (over 800 networks), international bulk SMS provider and SMS gateway provider company.