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12/3/2012
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8 Messaging Tools That Are Burying SMS

Twenty years after an engineer sent the first text message, it's showing its age. Here are 8 services that are putting SMS in its grave.

Windows Phone 8: Star Features
Windows Phone 8: Star Features
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Twenty years ago on this date, U.K. engineer Neil Papworth sent the first short message service, or SMS. "Merry Christmas" was what he said, and thus was born what we've come to call text messaging. Text messaging didn't catch on right away. It wasn't until the early years of the 21st century that mobile messaging grabbed hold of our attention as a viable means of communication.

In June 1997, Americans sent about 1.2 million text messages per month. Five years later, that number had jumped to 930.7 million, no doubt thanks in part to the QWERTY-equipped BlackBerry and Palm Treo smartphones that were available at the turn of the century. By 2007, Americans were sending 28.9 billion messages per month.

In 2012, we send 184.3 billion text messages per month, with an annual rate that totals a staggering 2.27 trillion messages.

That number has probably peaked, though, and is ready to begin a slow descent thanks to what are called over-the-top (OTT) messaging services. OTT services are those that work around a carrier's SMS messaging infrastructure and use their data networks, instead.

[ Would you pay a premium for an off-contract iPhone? Unlocked iPhone 5: Worth The Cost? ]

We've already begun to nail SMS into its coffin with the following eight tools:

1. BBM: BlackBerry Messenger is one of the oldest and most-used OTT services available. This service lets BlackBerry owners send free BBMs to other BlackBerry devices. BBM is baked into every BlackBerry, and it will gain new features next year when RIM releases BlackBerry 10.

2. ChatOn: You may not have heard of ChatOn, a multi-platform messaging service developed in part by Samsung. If you've bought a Galaxy S III, Note II or other Samsung handset in recent months, ChatOn is on board. It works over a data connection and lets Samsung device owners send messages for free. ChatOn works on Android, BlackBerry and iOS devices.

3. Facebook: Facebook has become an alternative to many things, including traditional mobile email. The Facebook smartphone app, which is available to Android, BlackBerry, iOS and Windows Phone platforms, lets people avoid SMS messages entirely through a dedicated email/messaging client, as well as instant messaging tools.

4. Google Talk: Google Talk is an instant messaging client that was born within Gmail, but is also part of every Android handset. It can be used to conduct two-way conversations with other GTalk users using desktops and/or Android devices.

5. Google Voice: Google Voice, which is available as an app on Android and iOS devices, is not only a messaging platform, but a full-fledged telephony service. It can be used on smartphones to connect calls over a carrier's cellular network, as well as to send free messages via data to most numbers.

6. iMessage: iMessage is Apple's answer to BBM. It works on iPhones, iPads, iPods and Mac desktop computers. iMessage can send messages over cellular networks as well as data networks. Messages sent to other iMessage users are automatically sent over the data network, but iMessage will send a normal SMS to non-iMessage users.

7. Skype: Skype has been around for a long time. It can be used to replace voice and messaging services on smartphones. Microsoft, which now owns Skype, intends to integrate the platform with its Windows Live messaging service to create an uber instant messaging client for Windows Phones and other devices. Skype is available to Android, BlackBerry, iOS and Windows Phone devices.

8. Twitter: Seasoned Twitter users will send one another Direct Messages -- or DMs -- rather than SMS messages. Twitter probably did not intend for its DM service to become an SMS workaround, but that's one way it's being utilized by savvy mobile device owners. Twitter is available to most platforms, and on the mobile Web.

Of course, there a multitude of other options out there. These are simply some of the more popular ones.

Revised language in section 5 to clarify that Google Voice itself is not a VoIP service.

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jc
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jc,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/3/2012 | 10:30:33 PM
re: 8 Messaging Tools That Are Burying SMS
If I know a friend is on Twitter I will DM before I send a text. And many of my friends in foreign countries use whatsapp.
Gussy2000
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Gussy2000,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/3/2012 | 6:07:14 PM
re: 8 Messaging Tools That Are Burying SMS
I don't buy any of this for a minute.

For one, alternatives to SMS require data usage and only 53% of mobile phones are considered "smartphones". Feature phones can send text messages but not necessarily use apps like FB Messenger or Skype.

Everyone I know (and their mom) are on Facebook, using a smartphone and have the Facebook app but hardly ANY of them have any idea FB has a dedicated messaging app. That is just one example of why this article is on crack.

If I want the fastest response from ANYONE in my address book, I send an SMS message. I've found people respond to those with greater frequency and timeliness than they do to even a phone call and/or voice mail message.
Bobbyboy
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Bobbyboy,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/3/2012 | 6:04:05 PM
re: 8 Messaging Tools That Are Burying SMS
How is Voxer not on this list! Awesome app. Check it out if you haven't.
scottslc
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scottslc,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/3/2012 | 5:30:44 PM
re: 8 Messaging Tools That Are Burying SMS
you put blackberry (bbm) as number 1. how do they find each other? There's so few of them...
Pabloel
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Pabloel,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/3/2012 | 5:27:55 PM
re: 8 Messaging Tools That Are Burying SMS
Shocked the writer did not even mention whatsapp . The real SMS killer with more than 200 million subscribers worldwide
gotext
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gotext,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/3/2012 | 5:03:33 PM
re: 8 Messaging Tools That Are Burying SMS
I think this article missed a huge area of the texting world.. Advertising.. services like gotextpro.com enable companies to send out thousands of text within a matter of seconds to their customers.
oliverklue
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oliverklue,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/3/2012 | 4:42:50 PM
re: 8 Messaging Tools That Are Burying SMS
I think Whatsapp and Kik is just as effective, please research and comment.
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