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20 Years of SMS: Great Technologies Transcend the Times

Yesterday marked the 20th anniversary of the first sent SMS message. Specifically, the target message was sent from a PC to a mobile device over Vodafone’s UK network. The text of the message was very simple “Merry Christmas” and the recipient couldn’t reply because, well, the mobile device wasn’t equipped with SMS technology.

The invention of the SMS technology is attributed to a group of engineers led by Matti Makkonen was has come to be known as the “reluctant father of SMS” given his position to never take full credit for the invention of the technology.

20 years is a very long time in the technology ecosystem. In 20 years, we have witnessed multiple revolutions in the mobile and telecommunications world and yet SMS is still standing as one of the fundamental pieces of any Telco technology stack. As far as user experiences go, SMS is as simple as it gets; infrastructure wise, SMS requires an incredible robust network pipeline to ensure the correct delivery of messages. The ability of surface a complex infrastructure using simple and intuitive user experiences and open programming interfaces that can be blended into different technology stack are part of the core DNA of world-changing technologies.

At its core, SMS is an infrastructure technology. I am of the firm opinion that the best infrastructure technologies have the ability of “disappearing” behind simple user experiences. Every day, we used technologies like Twitter, GPS or simple phone calls without thinking about the infrastructure powering our user experience. Simplicity and openness gives great infrastructure technologies the ability of transcending the times and changing the world.

Regardless of its many technical merits, 20 years is still a long time for a technology. Congrats to Matti Makkonen on the 20th anniversary of SMS. 8 trillion messages after, we still need to thank him for giving us a technology that has transcended the times. 

 
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Posted by on December 4, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Twitter Will Eat the Olympics! And Let’s Hope the Olympics Don’t Eat Twitter

The London Olympics are 7 hours away and Twitter will be at the center of it. From the official media channels to normal people, every triumph, defeat or important event during the Olympics is expected to be tweeted to millions in a near real time fashion. From a communications standpoint, Twitter is literally set to become the most important component of the games of XXX Olympiad.

Marc Andreessen’s famous post “Why Software is Eating the World” has never been more true. In only four years, Twitter has drastically changed the way the world publishes and consumes information related to the Olympics. We can expect entire events being narrated real time via Tweets and consumed in areas of the world inaccessible to the official media channels. In that sense, Twitter will make the Olympic spirit even more global and facilitate the exchange of news and passionate opinions between people from different races, economic backgrounds, religions, political standpoints at a scale we’ve never seen before.

Similarly, I believe the London Olympics are destined to influence part of Twitter’s future. From a communication flow and technology standpoint, Twitter is about to see an unparalleled phenomenon: 21 days of sustained global traffic spikes. Twitter wasn’t nearly as globally adopted during the Beijing Olympics as it is today and recent events such as the Arab Spring that has seen a lot of attention in the Tweetsphere has been of a shorter duration, geographically and demographically focused and of a lesser scale than the 2012 games.

It’s hard to imagine another technology that could be so pivotal to a global phenomenon like the Olympics. Without exaggerating, we can say that the games of the XXX Olympiad wouldn’t be the same without Twitter and the, still young software company, is about the witness the influence of its technology at a complete different scale.

Let the Tweetgames begin!

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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