Is it the end of the road for SMS?

man yelling shouting screaming at cell phone

It’s been a long time coming, but cheaper alternatives might be putting the final nails in the traditional text message’s coffin. Skype’s $85 million acquisition of GroupMe only reinforced the belief that the SMS is about to become a thing of the past.

You had a good run, and were inarguably addictive. But it’s starting to look like SMS was just a gateway drug for the good stuff. Sure, we have the original SMS to thank for all of the superior applications it has inspired, however here are three reasons why the text message, as we knew it, is on the way out.

Security – rise of the BBM clones

RIM was among the first to encrypt the text message and make it an exclusive package for BlackBerry users. Using the smartphone’s Internet connection, these private and secure messages were accessible regardless of mobile network coverage and allowed for group chatting sessions. Despite the brand’s reputation as the dinosaur of smartphones (an image RIM is actively trying to shed), it got this right, and BBM remains arguably the most loved and leveraged feature of BlackBerries.

But the competition has caught on. Apple announced that its release of iOS 5 would include an application called iMessage. The iOS-to-iOS exclusive messaging system means you can send any content via the phone’s 3G or wireless connection, and easily bypass its carriers’ built-in texting plan.

We wouldn’t be surprised if WP7 isn’t working on some type of secure, exclusive messaging option as well. Skype’s acquisition of GroupMe and Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype obviously means WP7 could integrate the group texting application’s technology into its smartphones. Verizon also embeds Skype into all of its smartphones, which means GroupMe will soon be included in this free software.

Easy alternatives

messBuilt-in, OS-exclusive messaging application aren’t the only options either. The flood of smartphones in the consumer market means that non-SMS texting is available to a wide array of buyers, which opened up a whole new area of development for mobile app-makers. We’ve seen no shortage of software produced this year: Facebook Messenger, TextPlus, Google Chat, Disco, Beluga, Kik, Google+’s Huddle feature, and of course, GroupMe, are just a few popular alternatives.

There are caveats to using some of these apps and entirely abandoning carrier-provided texting. For instance, Facebook Messenger and Google Chat (or G+’s Huddle) only can communicate with people that also have Google or Facebook accounts. But if you really want to save money and put your network in its place, free apps offer solutions.


The traditional text message might stand a chance if carriers weren’t charging so much. People like easy, and using built-in, familiar software is very, very easy. But consumers have long been raging over the ever-increasing prices – and the technology behind those escalating costs doesn’t justify the rates. Text messages cost next to nothing for wireless carriers to send across their networks, but users’ attachment to SMS is why they’ve been able to charge so much for it. Did you know that a one minute voice phone call or message uses more data than five hundred text messages?

While text messaging rakes in the big bucks for carriers, its use is declining as we’re all catching on. Users are abandoning SMS because it costs too much (AT&T just upped its unlimited plan to a whopping $20 a month) and there are ways to use a similar service without feeling that pain. Let’s face it: You can’t beat free. 

Top image courtesy of Chad Zuber / Shutterstock

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the beliefs of Digital Trends.


Updating to Apple’s iOS 12 will make your iPhone a whole lot smarter

iOS 12, the latest version of Apple’s iOS, is officially here. We took it for a spin to check out its new noteworthy features, and if it truly changes our smartphone habits for the better.

Google Maps is available on Apple CarPlay with iOS 12

After months of betas, the final version of iOS 12 is here to download. The new OS comes along with tons of new capabilities from grouped notifications to Siri Shortcuts, here are all the features you'll find in iOS 12.
Smart Home

OK, Google, what can you do? Tips and tricks for the Google Home

The Home functions in a similar fashion to its main competitor, the Amazon Echo, but has the added benefit of select Google services. Here are few tips to help you make the most of the newfangled device.

Apple Music vs. Spotify: Which service is the streaming king?

Apple Music is giving Spotify a run for its money, but which service is best for you? In our Apple Music vs. Spotify showdown, we compare and contrast all we know about the two streaming music services.

OnePlus 6T may launch soon with in-display fingerprint sensor, dual cameras

According to a recent report, the launch of the OnePlus 6T could be different from any other OnePlus launch in history. How? It could have the backing of a major U.S. carrier. Here's everything we know about the OnePlus 6T.

Code found in iOS 12.1 beta suggests we will see a new iPad this fall

The new iPhone XS, iPhone XR, and Apple Watch aren't the last devices we'll see from Apple in 2018. There are plenty of rumors about a new iPad coming this year too, and it may share some design similarities with the new phones.

Google brings its high-accuracy emergency location tracking to the U.S.

Google has announced that its Emergency Location Service is coming to Android phones on T-Mobile, marking the service's U.S. debut. The service allows for high-accuracy location information to be sent to first responders.

Cyber Monday 2018: When it takes place and where to find the best deals

Cyber Monday is still a ways off, but it's never too early to start planning ahead. With so many different deals to choose from during one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year, going in with a little know-how makes all the…

Fitbit’s new health care platform sets out to improve wellness in the workplace

Fitbit's new platform, Fitbit Care, aims to help improve wellness in the workplace. Using wearables, digital health coaching, and a more personalized health care experience, employees can have an easier time staying on top of their health.
Home Theater

Google Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra: Everything you need to know

Google's Chromecast plugs into your TV's HDMI port, allowing you to stream content from your tablet, laptop, or smartphone directly to your TV. Here's what you need to know about all iterations, including the 4K-ready Chromecast Ultra.

Samsung looks to Huawei for inspiration, and the new Galaxy A7 is born

Samsung has launched the Galaxy A7 smartphone, its first with a triple-lens rear camera, which, although sounds similar to the one fitted to the Huawei P20 Pro, works in a different way.

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro's body may wirelessly charge new Bluetooth headphones

Huawei is no stranger when it comes to big phones. And this year it plans to go even bigger with the Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro. Here's what we think we know about the new range.
Smart Home

Voice technology is useful, in demand, and not moving fast enough

A new survey commissioned by IT analytics firm AppDynamics indicates that enterprise companies aren't adopting advances in voice technology fast enough to keep up with demand, especially from millennials.

88 percent of the $800-plus smartphones sold last quarter were iPhones

Apple may not sell as many smartphones as Samsung overall, but according to a new report that varies depending on price. The company sold 43 percent of all smartphones over $400, and 88 percent of those over $800 last quarter.