NTT DATA, a leading provider of business and IT solutions, celebrates the 20th anniversary of Emojis. On 22 February 1999, customers of NTT DOCOMO, INC., the mobile operator of the NTT Group and partner of NTT DATA, were able to send digital symbols as part of text messages via mobile communications for the first time. This was made possible by NTT DOCOMO’s mobile data service i-mode.

 

NTT DATA, a leading provider of business and IT solutions, celebrates the 20th anniversary of Emojis. On the 22nd of February 1999, the customers of NTT DOCOMO, INC., the mobile operator of the NTT Group and partner company of NTT DATA, were able to send digital symbols as part of text messages via mobile communications for the first time. This was made possible by NTT DOCOMO’s mobile data service i-mode.

One of the most popular features of i-mode was text messaging. As its scope was limited, DOCOMO decided to provide a number of pictograms. The emotional side of communication played a central role. Images, however simple they may be, can at least partially replace the missing non-verbal signals such as facial expressions, gestures, or vocal pitch. This creates confidence in digital communication.

“There are times in our lives when we do not have the words to formulate a state of mind. Slowly we end the handwriting and use increasingly more digital devices. Through Emojis, social co-existence has taken on and will continue to take on a completely different dimension, something we cannot understand at present, especially in the context of the artificial intelligence offensive. However, we should not leave how we communicate or how we express our feelings to chance, and that will become a challenge. We think ahead to future generations and to the tools they will develop to speed up and simplify communication between people”. – Daniel Metz, CEO NTT DATA Romania.

In the typical Japanese tradition, the developers creatively maximized the expressiveness of each Emoji within the limit of 12 x 12 pixels. They developed an innovative sign language that is understandable worldwide. The low-resolution monochrome displays common at the time required a simple representation that did not fall under copyright protection. As a result, more and more mobile operators were able to offer Emojis. At the same time, the continuing success of i-mode in Japan, Singapore and other countries ensured the rapid distribution of the new “picture letters”. The name Emoji originated from the combination of the Japanese words “e” and “moji” for “picture” and “letters”.

In 2010, around 700 Emojis were included in Unicode, the international standard for the digital encoding of characters. Since then, the digital pictograms have been universally applicable. The Emoji trend received a further boost from social networks. At the same time, providers of smartphone operating systems simplified the input of emojis in all forms of text-based communication such as E-Mail, SMS, Instant Messaging and Social Media Posts.

Today, Emojis are billions of times more frequent all over the world. Again and again, statistics on their use show that DOCOMO’s approach of giving digital communication an emotional level has a long-lasting effect: red hearts and smiling faces are regularly at the top of the rankings of the most frequently used emojis, although unicode.org has only 149 emojis in the “Smileys & Emotion” category. For comparison, the Standardization Committee’s Emoji catalog in its current version contains 3019 different emojis in ten categories. Trend: rising.