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The humble text message, which celebrates its 21st birthday today, is past its prime for the first time in history, as new figures show a declining trend of SMSing.

After having done everything from sealing multi-national deals to shattering lovelorn hearts during the last two decades, text messaging volumes have declined for the first time since their inception, a new report has found.

From a tiny start with the world's first message – the words "Merry Christmas" sent from a personal computer to a mobile phone - on December 3, 1992, the use of texts exploded after 1998 when the UK's four major mobile-phone companies introduced "pay-as-you-go".

Now four billion people around the globe use SMS – Short Message Service - to communicate with each other. But, for the first time since their inception, text messaging volumes have declined.

New figures from the media regulator Ofcom saw two quarterly declines - by over a billion - in the volume of SMS messages sent in the UK.

The volume of texts sent in Britain reached a peak of 39.7 billion at the end of last year, but have now dropped to 38.5 billion - the first recorded decline.

The pattern is similar in the US where volumes of texts have also dropped, according to a new report.

"For the first time in the history of mobile phones, SMS volumes are showing signs of decline," 'The Independent' quoted James Thickett, Ofcom's director of research, as saying.

"The availability of a wider range of communications tools, like instant messaging and social networking sites, means people might be sending fewer SMS messages, but they are communicating electronically more than ever before," Thickett said.

Technological change is now so rapid and so unpredictable that no one can say how we will be communicating in 20 years' time. However the SMS messages have been defining texts of the past two decades, the reports said. 

Story first published on: December 03, 2012 08:53 (IST)

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