Humble SMS 'now past its peak'
The SMS message, which over the past two decades has done everything from sealing multinational deals to shattering lovelorn hearts, - is, for the first time in its history, on the decline, it has been revealed.
From a tiny start with the world's first message - the words "Merry Christmas" sent from a personal computer to a mobile phone - in December 1992, the use of texts exploded after 1998 when the UK's four major mobile-phone companies introduced "pay-as-you-go".
A year later, supermarkets were selling mobiles and any teenager without one slid down the social caste system.
Now four billion people around the globe use SMS to communicate with each other but, for the first time since their inception, text messaging volumes have declined.
New figures from the media regulator Ofcom saw two quarterly declines - by over a billion - in the volume of SMS messages sent in the UK. The volume of texts sent in Britain reached a peak of 39.7bn at the end of last year, but have now dropped to 38.5bn � the first recorded decline.
The pattern is similar in the US where volumes of texts have also dropped, according to a new report.
"For the first time in the history of mobile phones, SMS volumes are showing signs of decline," the Independent quoted James Thickett, Ofcom's director of research, as saying.
He added that it was the availability of a wider range of services like instant messaging and Twitter that has led to the fall.
"The availability of a wider range of communications tools, like instant messaging and social networking sites, means people might be sending fewer SMS messages, but they are communicating electronically more than ever before," he said.
Technological change is now so rapid and so unpredictable that no one can say how we will be communicating in 20 years' time. But here on these pages, while we still have SMS, are some of the defining texts of the past two decades.