While sailing in a sea of flight cancellations and alterations last week, I needed to monitor two different flights, and followed an ad for a website that promised to do exactly that. I registered for a free service that would send me notifications for both these flights and had an impressive collection of airports and airlines it covers (www.flightstats.com). I got a bit disappointed that I could only get the email notifications for free and SMS had to be paid for, but was not surprised. After all, SMS costs money, email is free.
And then I thought twice. I have a PDA and receive my emails instantaneously. The SMS notification would give me no more prompt feedback than the email (apart from the slightly more attention-demanding ringtone). It would actually be limiting the notification in terms of length of the message, whereas email can be a bit more verbose.
So how long till SMS dies? The more people have devices that do email (easily), the less meaning SMS will have. Apart from the possibility of Instant-Messaging style applications on mobile devices that would serve the same purpose, just plain old email will serve the purpose of instant, short-message communication just fine. Perception of the instant nature of SMS in contrast with the usual delays in reading and replying to emails will change as email will be just as instantaneous, and SMS will have little or no reason to exist.
The end is nigh (well, a good two or three decades away perhaps, but definitely in our lifetime) for the SMS…