There’s no denying it: emojis have become a part of everyday life. From smartphones to social media to articles published by top news sources to feedback forms, emojis can now be found and used absolutely everywhere. For many, communication in the 21st century is not only instant, international and interactive, it also requires the use of emojis. Emojis help us to communicate what we truly mean when simple, brief messages may be misinterpreted or don’t really convey what we mean thoroughly. So, how did emojis become such as intricate, essential part of our lives? Let’s take a look.


Like many other tech trends, emojis first became a cultural phenomenon in Japan. Back in the late 1990s, Japanese consumers were obsessed with new mobile phones that featured cameras and WAP as well as the ability to send and receive images. In turn, Japanese mobile phone companies and software developers had to come up with a way to support this new trend.

Japanese companies have always put their consumers’ needs first, and no company has done more to meet their users' needs than NTT DoCoMo. In 1999, the mobile operator had already created i-mode, an internet service that still reigns supreme throughout Japan today. This service was utterly groundbreaking at the time as it combined email accounts, news and weather forecasts with entertainment sources. It was a man from the NTT DoCoMo i-mode team that first came up with emojis.

Shigetaka Kurita realised early on in i-mode that digital communication lacked the depth that face-to-face or phone conversations had. This was particularly true of digital communication throughout Japan as online messages tend to be quite long and filled with honorifics, person messages and other linguistic nuances. So Kurita decided to create the emoji, which literally translates to “picture character”.

Although a few Japanese carriers began to host emojis, it wasn’t until Apple stepped in that emojis became a global phenomenon. While looking for a way into the touch Japanese market, the company decided to support the already well-established emoji catalogue and has done so ever since the iOS 2.2 update. However, this emoji keyboard was hidden within North American software and wasn’t officially added to iOS keyboards until 2011. Following this, many other brands began to support their own emoji keyboards and now emojis are a staple of digital communication on almost every platform.


Since 2011, emojis have taken the world by storm. In May 2016, a musical entitled Emojiland premiered in Los Angeles, California at the Rockwell Table & Stage, while even well-established television series such as Doctor Who have created episodes centred on the picture characters. Of course, there’s also the upcoming Sony Pictures Animation The Emoji Movie starring big name celebrities like James Corden, Anna Faris and Patrick Stewart.

Meanwhile, on the internet, emojis continue to appear in almost every form of media imaginable. There are even games based on emojis where you can create your own emojis such as Disney Emoji Maker as well as quizzes such as Guess The Emoji and Emoji Blitz. The iGaming industry has also embraced emojis, with games such as Slotomoji appearing on modern platforms such as Bitcasino among other popular games such as poker and baccarat. Still, emojis transcend merchandise and media.

Over the last few years, there have been numerous emoji updates, which has led to the notion that emojis will continue to evolve a lot like language does. The more emojis evolve the easier it will be to communicate with others in an increasingly digital world, and perhaps emojis themselves will enable people with different mother tongues to communicate with each other regardless of language barriers.

Where do you think emojis will go in the future? Do you have a favourite emoji? Let us know in the comments below.

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