The Text Message Revolution
Back when the idea of mobile phones for all was still a science-fiction idea, most of us would probably have imagined that the thing which would get cell phones into the “everyday accessory” category would be the way that they allowed you to make phone calls wherever you went in the world.
However, it could be argued that the real tipping point had little to do with voice calls.
As the 20th century came to an end, the world saw a new innovation – text messaging.
From nowhere, the idea that a mobile phone was nothing more than a telephone you carried around with you was killed.
Every mobile phone sold on the market now had an additional feature – the ability to send short messages using the phone’s alphanumeric keypad, which could be read rather than heard.
The early limitations of “texting” came as a challenge to many people – most phones allowed you to send messages no longer than 160 characters, and to send a longer message you either needed to send it in parts, or to shorten down words – an idea which led to a major increase in what is now known as “text speak” or “txt spk”.
Texting is perhaps less popular now than it used to be, as many phones now include an email client that allows you to be more fulsome in what you say.
However, for phones that do not have web browsers, or for users in a hurry, the option to send a text message is still a major bonus, and without the text message it is arguable that cell phones would still be a niche item.