The success of mobile phone calls was perhaps easy to foresee: who wouldn't want the ability to talk to anybody, from anywhere in the world, whenever they wanted? Yet no-one predicted the dominance of text messaging (SMS). It started as just an incidental feature, added more as a result of techies' tinkering than as part of a marketing drive. The UK now sends more than 4 billion messages every month. The most texts sent in one day was on New Year's Day this year - Brits alone sent 214 million messages, of salutation, good cheer and apologising for the previous night's various indiscretions. Texting is 'convenient' and distances people from potentially awkward conversation, giving users time and space to formulate a strategic response. Never mind that it's far easier, and more sincere, to give someone a ring. At around 10p a pop, texting services are clearly helping to line the pockets of some already wealthy network providers. But it's not smiley faces all round. Sloppy habits mean words are being shortened, adjectives replaced by emoticons, and vowels ditched altgthr. And it's not just our language that's at risk - manners and health are too. In 2003, 3,000 staff were made redundant via text by Manchester-based Accident Group. A 2006 survey said a staggering 3.8 million Brits might suffer RSI from tapping away on tiny keypads. At this rate, 2.3 trillion texts will be sent in 2010, when revenue from messages will reach £36.9bn. That should leave network bosses feeling rather :-).