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Taking a look at Twttr.com

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According to Michael at TechCrunch, The podcast people, Odeo.com, have launched Twttr.com, an SMS broadcast mechanism that enables you to keep in touch with what your friends are up to. 

I tried registering but as with almost any other American centric mobile service, it doesn’t work from the UK. 

The concept behind the service is rather nifty:  everyone and everything has a status.  e.g. Your current status is ‘reading SMS Text News’, right?   Well Twttr wants to capture that status, bring it together with that of your friends and colleagues and help you keep track.  So, for example, while I’m sat writing this blog post, I might get a Twttr from my friend Tom to tell me he’s sat in the Winchester Pizza Express having doughballs. 

That is neat.  I like it.  I like the concept and I get it. 

The problem I have is getting other UK based non mobile geeks to use it.  e.g. I don’t think my friend Tom could be bothered.  Doubtless, the rest of my friends are the same.   I think I would deliberately have to go out of my way to use Twttr non-stop to try and show them the benefits — and after having done so….  ahhh it’s painful to admit, but I think the culture here is that while sending a text message is thought of as ‘free’, sending one to a Twttr style service might cause many to think twice.

You’d actually get a better return on investment for your 12 pence text message by using Twttr.  One text message telling folk what you’re up to — which is distributed to everyone.

Alas the Twttr model doesn’t work in the UK.  The cost of sending text message Twttr updates to everyone would be too prohibitive.  At least in America, you can rely on the email-to-cell ‘cellnumber@cellservice.com’ functionality.  In the UK, Twttr would have to pay to transmit SMS message updates to everyone.   

This part of the Twttr frequently asked questions page raised a wry smile:

Will this effect my SMS plan?
If possible, please get an unlimited plan. You will be much happier. On the twttr website we give you a running total of how many txt messages you have used through twttr for the month.

‘If possible’?  An unlimited plan?  In the UK?   Dream on.  😉 

Still, I wish them success.

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

2 replies on “Taking a look at Twttr.com”

Hello Ewan,

Twttr works in the UK with our long-code: 415-283-8611. We’ve had some problems with the gateway software over the past 24h which has prevented sending out passwords properly. This should be resolved shortly.

We are looking to be a global service (one of our developers lives in Germany). Thank you for trying it out!

jack (from twttr)

Ewan: when I first saw twttr I knew it’d never work in the UK because:

1. In the UK, everyone would call it twatter. I read it as twatter even after I tried to condition myself to read it as twitter (although my fragile mind has been warped from working with pornographers). This is not a good thing from a marketing point of view (or maybe it is!)

2. Like you pointed out it requires the user to stop what they are doing and update twttr, ergo, every user’s status will be “Updating twttr”.

It’d be much better to use one of the similar services (I’m assuming these exist, if they don’t then it’s my idea and you can’t have it!) that runs an app to check the Cell ID and figure out where you are (based on a user-updated database). It won’t say “I’m in Pizza Express” but it will say “I’m in London”, “I’m in Essex” or “I’m in North Wales” at which point I can say, hey Ewan is nearby, I’ll ping him and see if he fancies a pint.

Jack: as far as I know sending a text messages to that international long-number would incur a higher-than-usual cost for most users. To make twttr appealing to UK users you could look into getting a UK long number (not a shortcode, no networks include shortcodes in their inclusive text plans).

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