I sympathize with Stephanie Booth today. She’s one of the lucky one’s that’s learned that Twitter on the mobile via SMS is ‘instantaneous”, “current” and keeps you abreast in real-time. Here’s a pictorial example of how I see it on my iPhone. Note it looks like a stream just like a Twitter page.
Note I’ve bolded Stephanie’s key statement below. She could get these messages without sharing a phone number! With Phweet she can get “call requests” and “talk” without sharing her phone number! Twitter and Phweet in that way are the “new world” of communications. You and I are not numbers. We have names and we have our own profiles and we share them.
Stephanie’s twitterSMS message has the backing of a user profile, with context and updates. That’s more than the phone system ever provided.
Stephanie while I lament your loss I strongly believe this type of SMS service is here to stay. What’s also important, she says she’ll pay for the service. Great! Although I don’t think she needs to at least not directly and that’s a story for another day.
This announcement should also be seen as a concern by Twitter users. Is Twitter in even bigger trouble than we suspected. I don’t know.
I used to get these messages on my phone, directly by SMS. So, basically, this is giving the nearly 1′500 people following me the possibility to send me a text message without having to know my phone number of have it handy. All they need to know is my username, which is easy: stephtara.
Oh well, we had it coming. Sending out all these text messages was costing Twitter a lot of money, we know that. It couldn’t go on like that. They’ve just stopped sending out text messages from the UK number we non-US people use (via The Next Web blog). You can still send messages by SMS, though.
What I’m really unhappy about though is that this announcement comes without any alternative. I’d pay. See this blog post for an example I would go with. I’m not saying either that I’m going to switch to another service. But the thought crossed my mind, for the first time.
See also these writeups:
- Mashable – Don Reisinger says they are lost on the Business Model.
- Steve Rubel – Be wary of mashups where the company has an unstable API.
- VentureBeat – Provides a smart commentary on the cost of SMS. For possible different reasons I’d predict in only a few years that everyone will have unlimited SMS.
- Register – not exactly written by a twitter lover.
- Mark Evans – Thinks the SMS rates are a joke! (Hint take a look at Phweet)
- Andy Beale – Why didn’t twitter ask their customers? (I think there is a good reason and it relates to a billing structure)
Impact on Phweet?:
Does this affects Phweet? My answer is no! We built Phweet to work with Twitter. However to go into a mashup with a strategy that says we would be beholden to twitter or anyone else’s API is a poor choice. Steve Rubel in his post today reinforces this point and I’ve learnt it well working on other mashups. Phweet was designed to standalone. Phweet currently is a prototype and is in public alpha for a reason. We needed certain learnings and validations. We have the important ones in hand.
I would prefer to continue to love Twitter. I am sure Phweet + Twitter is a synergistic story and growth accelerator. We can and do ride on their SMS infrastruture so I’d like to help them turn on the SMS notifications again. Few things are as powerful as a voice conversation to lift both the level of discussion and build emotional bonds. At the moment Twitter loses someone to a Skype conversation or phone frequently. Use Twitter search “skype” to get a feeling for it.
For many Twitter is already the most valuable place to engage in conversation. Believe me. SMS was one of the reasons why. Phweet will certainly be another.