Esendex launches £1,000 two-way SMS developer competition

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Messaging services company Esendex recently launched their developer competition — and it’s one that I hope you’ll give some attention to.

The competition gives applicants the chance to show off aspiring ideas in the world of text messaging with the winning entrant receiving a guaranteed cash prize of £1,000 and a chance at commercial success.

It’s quite simple: You just need to come up with a smart use of two-way texting. Two-way text messaging is massively undervalued by today’s marketing professionals and mobile developers.

Only this morning I got a text message from my gym telling me that next week I’ve got the opportunity to bring a friend to work out for free. Excellent. I was sat with a friend when I received the text so I asked him. He wondered if this ‘offer’ meant that he could visit the pool too. Or just the gym. We didn’t know. I replied to the text message with a question — only realising that the text message’s originator address was set to the gym name. I couldn’t reply. Ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous. It’s NOT good enough. If you text me, I should be able to text you. There are FAR TOO MANY one-way text applications out there. Crazy. Text is a two-way medium.

Ergo I am pleased that Esendex are encouraging developers to look at this issue and come up with some innovative new applications for two-way SMS.

As well as the first prize of a grand, one runner-up will receive five hundred pounds — and a further five will receive fifty pound Amazon vouchers. The Esendex news release points out that:

Participants may even be able to promote their applications to the press and customers through the competition.

I can go one better. I’ll do a write-up on the winner, runner-up and the five finalists. Plus a few videos. I’m going to see if I can catch Adam shortly to get his perspective on two-way messaging.

I’ve got a particular interest in this competition — I’m a judge, along with Mr Mobile himself, Mike Short, Chairman of the Mobile Data Association (and top chap in R&D at o2) and Adam Bird, Esendex Managing Director.

Esendex have also graciously contributed toward keeping the lights on here at SMS Text News by becoming an advertiser for a short term — I am very grateful for that.

If you’re a half decent mobile developer or a person with an idea then I would really like to see you hop to it and enter the competition. There’s no excuse, actually — Esendex are providing demo accounts with 250 SMS credits and a UK virtual mobile to test with. You can use their API to send and receive messages — and it really is simplicity itself to setup. With just a bit of PHP code, for example, you can be up and running in seconds.

Should you find yourself based in the United States then good news, that 1,000 pounds first prize works out to nearly $2,000.

I’ve been busy thinking of two-way SMS application ideas all day.

Right now I need to get my hair cut but the hair place I usually go to is shut. I can call and leave a voicemail to ask them for an appointment. But that’s 1900s technology, voice. I want to text now. And have them reply back tomorrow morning with a date and time.

I’d like to be able to text my gym. In fact I’d like for my other half to be able to text-book the ‘body pump’ class she’s planning on going to tomorrow morning.

I recently paid for my parking by text thanks to Verrus. That’s a good two-way app. Obviously the likes of Texperts and AQA are excellent two-way services. But how about a dice-throwing text service? It’d be rather good to text ‘throw’ to a number and have the service reply back with a number between one and six. Or a decision making service — equivalent to tossing a coin. Or an on-demand Bible quote. Or a Simpsons quote. Or the ability to query the temperature in Val D’issere, or any city. Or the ability — and this is something I worked on ages ago – -to text my hotel and ask them to do something for me, and get a reply back from the concierge.

The application form is here and the terms and conditions (they’re light and straight forward) are here.

I can’t wait to see the entries!

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.

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