Making The Case For Text Messaging

Making The Case For Text Messaging

I’ve been giving text messaging a hard time today, noting how I couldn’t get SMS check-in to work and then pointing out the flaws in . But while I can’t claim I’m a manic texter, I suspect reports of texting’s death are somewhat premature.

Picture by Gunnar Bothner-By

A report by Ovum that suggests that $US13.9 billion of potential text messaging revenue has been foregone by people using alternatives (such as social networking) instead. As Alex points out over at Gizmodo, the figure is nonsensical, since it presumes that messages sent using Facebook (or whatever) might otherwise have been texted. Alex goes on to argue that data inclusions are the most important element of a phone plan for him.

I agree that data matters, but there are still some contexts where, at least for now, text messaging can make sense. Two obvious areas:

  • In areas where there’s minimal mobile signal or lots of noise (think nightclubs, big sporting events) sending texts is more useful and reliable than trying to call. Using data services in this case is often a pain too; Facebook doesn’t work well if you’ve got GPRS or no signal.
  • On overseas trips, sending text messages is often cheaper than roaming data (even if it is at double the price of domestic texts).

Where do you still find texting useful?


  • I SMS all the time – it’s my main phone-to-phone communication. There is still nothing with the absolute ubiquity and reliability of the humble SMS. Not everyone collects e-mail on their phone; not everyone (amazingly) is on Facebook – and even those who are, may not have a smartphone that notifies them of incoming FB messages; my Dad can use SMS; my sisters can use MMS.

  • SMS is great. It’s cheap, simple, reliable, and ubiquitous. iMessage for iOS is quite a handy upgrade to the humble SMS. It is free to those with iPhones (50% of my contacts), and it integrates seamlessly with regular SMS in case of no data network or to other devices. Sure, there are other ways of sending ‘data’ messages, but they all require the use of a separate app.

    • iMessage is very handy for us, where we still text a lot, but the phone coverage sucks in our apartment.

      And while I can contact almost all of my closest family and friends over chat applications, they don’t all use the same applications. But they all have SMS. I’ve even tried apps like IMO and IM+, which consolidate chat services, but they just aren’t reliable enough to replace text any time soon.

  • I prefer to sms but my best friend and I generally use google talk on our phones which basically works as a text without the cost and when no reception we go back to smsing

  • How can that logic be non sensical, that’s exactly the same logic record and film companies use to make huge claims about the cost of piracy…

    But I digress. given that anyone with a phone less than 15 years old can send and receive text messages and a lot of phone plans now come with unlimited sms I can’t see it dying either. I’m one of those people that hasn’t bothered with facebook (not because I have anything against it, but I can’t see the point in my life) and not everyone checks their emails on their phone (I only check mine during work hours) so sms works great for me and I see no reason to stop using it when it essentially doesn’t cost me anything.

  • SMS is simple and fast, all phones has them so it’s good for the family. Smartphones have apps that circumvent SMS for data instead but it’s still annoying in that most of only works if the other person has the app. Otherwise in my social group everyone has that Steam Mobile App and the chat feature is very good.

  • Among my social circle, Google Talk has more-or-less replaced SMS. If I’m at my computer, I always have Gmail open, and if I’m out and about, the Talk app works pretty much exactly the same as the Messaging app.

  • The better question would be why do phone companies charge so much for SMS? These days when $0.50 buy 1MB of general data or 2x SMS. Even global roaming data at $22/MB is $0.022 for a KB, which is still cheaper compared to the amount of data a sms is (160 characters + phone numbers = approx 200 Bytes) so if it were 256 bytes, that’s worth 4 messages in a KB.

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