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December 5, 2012

SMS and beyond – the future of communication technologies: expert reaction

As this week marks the 20th anniversary of text messaging, CBR looks at opinions from experts on how communication technologies will continue to develop over the next few years.

By Tineka Smith

Thorsten Trapp, CTO of Tyntec told CBR

"SMS has enjoyed such widespread popularity because it is ubiquitous and easy to use, properties which are as true today as they were 20 years ago. For this reason its use will continue to remain widespread. SMS will also serve to complement the ever growing use of Internet communications services in both the business and consumer space as an additional delivery mechanism. Our recent consumer survey by YouGov in the US, UK and Germany showed that SMS is still the top application for smartphones, as well as showing huge potential for connecting this to social networks. Such findings show that SMS still has a large part to play in the future."

Trevor Connell, managing director at Siemens Enterprise Communications

"It is interesting that in the middle of all the advances in telecommunication technologies we have seen in the last 40 years, it has been the one that offers the least personalised service that has caught on so fast. Indeed, having the senders face appear next to the SMS message received has only been advanced in the last six years.

"Other advancements in mobile in these last six years have had similarly large impacts on how we interact with each other and the world around us: MMS (multimedia messaging service) and mobile internet in the form of 3G in particular have helped us go beyond the simple text. One advancement that has generated much discussion during this time is video conferencing and videotelephony. These technologies have had many decades of advancement but have yet to become as ubiquitous as SMS. They have made significant progress – from expensive business services in the 1990’s to mainstream business and consumer products, with ADSL and other broadband technologies making affordable videotelephony and conferencing a possibility.

"With 4G LTE launching in the UK last month, we are seeing the same bandwidth-enhancing capabilities being brought to the mobile phone that ADSL did for the PC at the turn of the century. This may be the catalyst to seeing businesses and consumers begin to integrate video conferencing into every part of their life. Rich multi-media technology, including video, seems set to bridge that gap and offer a personal approach, in a way a simple SMS cannot. With the internet truly going mobile, we could be on the verge of a similar telecommunication phenomenon".

Jeremy Green, principal analyst at Ovum told CBR

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"SMS has had a very good run, but it’s past its peak as users are increasingly making use of other communication technologies and communication paradigms.

"I think it’s also the case that providers are giving either cheaper or free text bundles to the end user alongside other services.
However, customers are increasingly using social messaging and other messaging services because in some way, they have better features and functionalities and can also be much cheaper. I think SMS might have periods in which it levels out but the only way really is down."

Neil Garner, Founder and CEO of Proxama told CBR
The next big thing to grab the attention of mobile phone owners will be near field communications, or NFC as it is known. This technology, which is already present in millions of smart phones worldwide, will enable consumers to interact with marketing campaigns via products, posters and point of sale displays, by simply tapping their NFC-enabled device against NFC tags which are embedded in the collateral. By doing so, they can quickly receive content such as vouchers, loyalty cards, video, games or links to social media and engage with retailers and brands

Jeremy George, CEO,

"SMS is unique in that it is a universal mobile protocol which allows users to communicate with each other and interact with cloud based applications irrespective of operating system, handset sophistication or data connectivity.

"In markets like Africa, apps need to be delivered as a service, rather than as a download. This is especially the case in a market like Africa where mobile data is too expensive and relatively unavailable.

"Cloud based mobile apps delivered via the SMS channel don’t require downloads, data, device hosting, storage or internet access, qualities which are vital in a mobile market like Africa. Internet-free apps delivered via the SMS channel are almost entirely device agnostic, as pretty much every mobile handset is SMS-capable.

"Much as the PC market has moved on to cloud hosted software, the mobile market needs to evolve – and the mobile data restrictions currently faced by Africa should enable the market to innovate past the rest of the industry. Africa has the opportunity to innovate and jump a development generation that other continents’ mobile industries have experienced, skipping the stage of device hosted apps to mobile cloud apps. The model of the app store works on a marketing basis, and in helping people to find what they’re looking for, but in terms of delivery of services, apps should come from a cloud-based network level."

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