Happy 20th birthday! New study confirms: the short message service is still hip

MUNICH/GERMANY. Would you have guessed? The text message, or SMS, turns 20 today. What began as an obscure method of sending information about mobile signal strengths is now the world's most popular way of sending short messages. In Germany alone, 54 billion are sent every year according to the VATM industry association's calculations. That's more than 100,000 every minute. Its success has not only transformed our language, but society with it, especially the young among us.
René Schuster
"Although some people predict the death of the text message, the trend is heading in another direction," says René Schuster, CEO of Telefónica Deutschland. "Our SMS volumes alone rose 27 per cent in the first ten months of this year compared to the same period last year. Even the new smartphone apps that send their short messages via the mobile Internet are stimulating the trend. Who wants to make sure his message arrives at its destination for certain still uses a reliable SMS." That is especially true during the festive season. What was once a time for the sacred family Christmas card is now the season of the text message. In fact, 80 per cent of 25- to 34-year-olds in Germany could imagine sending their Yuletide greetings in an SMS text. The results were gathered by a new survey taken by YouGov on behalf of Telefónica Deutschland. Even when viewed across all age groups, the answer receives a broad majority of 62 per cent.
Among the 18-to-24 bracket in Germany, almost half say they would actually call in sick by text message (47 per cent). This would have been unthinkable not too long ago, and among respondents aged 55-plus, only 17 per cent say that they would inform their boss by SMS that they were planning to stay in bed. Meanwhile, the things written in text messages are rarely to be found in the Duden. Although even that is changing and at least the much-used acronym LOL ("laughing out loud") has long joined the list of acceptable words in the standard dictionary of German language, at least in the online version. But what's up with "L8, FANTA! MeMiWi. BDDT + hdl!"? For young text messagers in Germany, such words are part of their everyday language. Sixty-three per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds communicate like this when they write text messages, and also a majority of 25- to 34-year-olds (54 per cent) use such a vocabulary. By the way, our complex example phrase in English comes out as: "Will be late, gone to fill up. I'll get back to you. See you later, bye, and lots of love!" That's three times longer than the original.
Telefónica Deutschland Holding AG, listed at the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in the Prime Standard, and its wholly-owned, operationally active subsidiary Telefónica Germany GmbH & Co. OHG belong to Telefónica Europe and are part of the Spanish telecommunication group Telefónica S.A. The company offers its German private and business customers post-paid and prepaid mobile telecom products as well as innovative mobile data services based on the GPRS, UMTS and LTE technologies with its product brand O2. In addition, the integrated communications provider also offers DSL fixed network telephony and high-speed internet. Telefónica Europe has more than 105 million mobile and fixed network customers in Spain, Great Britain, Ireland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Germany.

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René Schuster HighRes online