SMS stands for Short Message Service. SMS refers to the systems that mobile carriers around the world use to transmit text messages between mobile phones. A single SMS message can contain between 70 and 160 characters, depending on the type of characters it contains.

SMS history

The development of SMS began in the early 1980s, when a multinational group began work on a standard for sending alphanumeric messages to users of mobile devices. The first SMS text message was sent December 3, 1992. It said, simply, "Merry Christmas." By 1993, carriers in Scandinavia, the United States, and the United Kingdom were offering SMS to consumers.

Since that time, the popularity of SMS has skyrocketed. In 1995, the average mobile phone user sent 0.4 messages per month1. By 2005, that number had increased to 62 messages per user per month—and by 2015, it reached 548 messages per user per month2. Today, SMS is the most-used data service on the planet. It's estimated that over 15 million SMS messages were sent worldwide every minute of 2017. That's about 8 trillion messages per year3!

Sending SMS messages

There are two main ways to send SMS messages: from one mobile device to another mobile device, or from a computer to a mobile device. Sending from one device to another is known as Person-to-Person, or P2P messaging. Sending from a computer to a mobile device is known as Application-to-Person, or A2P messaging.

P2P messages are by far the most commonly used type of SMS messages. However, developers, marketers, and business users are more likely to communicate with their customers by using A2P messages. The most common way to send A2P messages is by using a cloud-based customer engagement or messaging application. These applications typically include other features in addition to the ability to send email. For example, they might include tools that help you divide your customers into targeted segments in order to maximize the effectiveness of your SMS campaigns. Or they might provide analytics tools that help you visualize your engagement rates.

SMS and customer engagement

Depending on your use case, you may find SMS messaging to be one of the most effective ways to send urgent or time-sensitive information to your customers. Studies show that SMS messages have an open rate as high as 90%4. The open rate for email, on the other hand, is slightly less than 25%5. Furthermore, as many as 90% of SMS opens occur within three minutes of receiving the message4, while only 13.7% of emails are opened within the in the first hour of receipt5.

SMS messaging and AWS

You can use Amazon Pinpoint to track your customers' behaviors and create segments based on that data. You can then send SMS messages to your customers all around the world. Amazon Pinpoint's SMS sending and receiving rates are very competitive, and you only pay for the messages you send.


  1. Ericsson, "Twenty years of Short Message Service (SMS): how text messaging helped to change the world," (accessed April 13, 2018).
  2. Statistic Brain, "Text Message Statistics – United States," (accessed April 13, 2018).
  3. Domo, "Data Never Sleeps 5.0," (accessed April 13, 2018).
  4. Tatango, "Beginner's Guide to SMS Marketing," (accessed April 13, 2018).
  5. Smart Insights, "Email marketing engagement and response statistics 2018," (accessed April 13, 2018).
  6. Marketing Charts, "US Email Open and Click Rates, by Hour Scheduled, in 2015," (accessed April 13, 2018).

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