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After years of lagging behind Europe and Japan in the adoption of mobile text messaging, US subscribers have finally caught the SMS (short messaging service) bug.
A total of 48.7bn SMS messages were sent in the last six months of 2005, up 50 per cent from 32.5bn in the first six months of last year, according to the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA).
Neither do Java email applets runing on (typically) GSM phones, BREW email applets running on (typically) CDMA phones, or email clients running on PDA-phones typically running on the Windows Mobile or PalmOS platforms, which access POP accounts over IP.
SMS stands for "Short Message Service". It's a very specific technology for sending short (160-character, maximum) messages to and from mobile phones.
When you open an email from someone in your BB's address book, you have the option of responding by email, SMS or calling them. Very handy.
Unfortunately at the time some of the American network operators seemed to want to keep their systems closed, which meant they all suffered because no one used the SMS service. Email would have similarly flopped if you had only been able to send mails to people on the same ISP as you.
The price of an SMS is a rip-off, you can do the same thing far more cheaply by installing an IM client on your phone and encouraging friends to do the same.
But the convenience of SMS messages is remarkable: it works on any phone (even ones from the 1990s) and allows you to contact someone instantly anywhere without them having to perform any kind of action. It's also an excellent payment method, because by using premium rate SMSes, you can allow people to pay for things with their phone.
Some countries have coke machines for example where you just send an SMS to the number on the machine and a coke bottle pops out instantly. Others use it for home shopping, you SMS your address and the cost of the product is charged to your phone bill.
SMS is a step backward.
Email and IM messages are only any good when the other person is logged in.
Personally I find the use of "delivery report" very useful. You get the receipt when they switch on their phone so there is no need to get upset about not getting a reply when their phone is out of range.
UK and European GSM phones didn't have any text facility at all on them for the first 3 or 4 years.
For the first year of text service, here in the UK, you could only send stuff to the same network.
Full European coverage was another 2 years in the making... but ubiquitous for the last 7 or 8 years now.
It was GSM digital phones that made it happen. The last of the Analogue service was withdrawn back in 1999 I think.