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U.S. Mobile Phone Users Are Laggards in Text Messaging

Dave Aiello wrote, "The New York Times ran an article in its Labor Day edition that said American mobile phone users are still not adopting text messaging services for their mobile phones. These services often go by the acronym SMS. SMS messages are short text messgaes of 160 or fewer characters, generally sent from one mobile phone to another, in lieu of a voice call."

"Text messaging has been the rage of Europe and Asia for several years. There are a lot of reasons cited for this. Chief among them is the fact that text messaging was and is far cheaper than making voice calls in those areas. Another factor is that mobile phone services in those areas all supported SMS from the outset, while SMS was not an integral part of many of the mobile phone technologies deployed in the United States. The article glosses over some of these historical facts."

"The article also talks about data-centric phones that are in the market or about to ship, and consumer-oriented services that I would characterize as trivial. Neither of these developments is likely to catapult text messaging into the mainstream." Read on for more....

Dave Aiello continued:

I think that applications for text messaging will become available that will drive its adoption in certain vertical business markets. However, it will never become mainstream in the U.S. because most people will never buy a phone with a keyboard or another rapid text entry device. The maximum length of text messages is also so limited, that only people with a creative streak will find it useful.

The accepted wisdom in the mobile communications industry says that young people in the U.S. will adopt text messaging because that is the demographic that drove its adoption in Europe. However, in Europe there were many fewer home computers connected to the Internet than there were in the United States at the time SMS started to become hot. In the United States, Instant Messaging became the preferred technological outlet for spur-of-the-moment message sending among young people.

No amount of advertising by wireless service providers is going to be able to generate similar levels of interest in text messaging here. You just don't create a market for text messaging by saying how cool you are if you use the service. The service has to fulfill an unmet need.

Cyber cafes are widely used in the developing world, why not here? Ever heard of ISPs? Ever heard of broadband to the home? Nobody went to cyber cafes in America because they had Internet access without leaving the house. Nearly everyone who wants email-like messaging already has it in the United States. Why should the mainstream embrace text messaging services now?

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CTDATA Venutures (CTDATA) develops Internet and Intranet applications for corporations and non profit organizations. Our services include:

  • Consulting services for Movable Type and TypePad-based publishing systems (visit our Weblog Improvement website for more information),
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  • MySQL, Sybase, and Microsoft SQL Server architecture and development,
  • SOAP, REST, and XML-RPC system architecture and programming, including Amazon Web Services and
  • Weblog publishing.
For more information, contact Dave Aiello by email at dave [at] daveaiello.com or call him at +1-267-352-4420.
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