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Twitter’s UK text replacements – it’s going to be hard work

I’ve just had a very nice ham sandwich.

I’m having a coffee in the canteen.

I’m about to get on the plane. It’s quite busy.

I am in Marylebone, United Kingdom.

I am in Euston, London, United Kingdom.

What a busy day. Now it’s time to do the ironing.

So.  Many of us will happily receive such drivel from Twitter when it’s free.

But at 10p, or 5p a text?

There’s a teeeny bit of value from receiving drivel via Twitter — i.e., your phone beeps and, for a moment, you feel slightly popular.  And at least you didn’t have to pay for the privilege.

When Twitter sensibly decided that they couldn’t afford to continue paying to transmit millions of drivel tweets to their UK users, a veritable array of companies sprung up offering to send you updates from your Twitter feed by text.  The key difference?  You hafta-pay.

That’s that section of the industry dead.

To setup a paid-for Twitter-by-text service is to totally misunderstand the medium.  Twitter messages are near-to-valueless.

They’re generally almost useful.

Be clear about the definitions of those two words I’ve just used.  There’s useful.  Then there’s almost useful.

Firstly, I’ve no desire to arse about paying for drivel to be delivered to my handset.  Especially when someone decides to take it upon themselves to send multiple drivets tweets.  I could possibly be persuaded to pay to receive text updates from various blogs.  But now that I’m having to think cash, I’m moved to just use my RSS reader on my phone.  Cheaper.

Oh dear.

One such new service that’s recently launched to fill the outgoing Twitter UK text gap is called Twittex.  I got a note in via the wires about them.  Backed by VOIP provider, Gradwell.

Make it 0.5p or 1p and I’ll think about it.  But at 5p, I simply don’t value the drivel enough.  I applaud the ingenuity and the entrepreneurial spirit though.

How about you?  Have you rushed out to buy such a facility?

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.

23 replies on “Twitter’s UK text replacements – it’s going to be hard work”

Dude, on this you are completely and totally wrong.
You're missing the point and not seeing the bigger picture…

The *awesome* thing about Twitter is the DIRECT MESSAGES., (DMs).

I find you online. I follow you. …you follow me back.

I don't know you well enough to give you my number and vice versa BUT through the medium of Twitter I can send an SMS direct to your mobile phone without having this personal information.

This feature is now gone and I personally miss it a lot.
I'm looking at a couple of solutions at the moment – TweetSMS, 3Jam and Twitteroo to name but three.

'the drivel' as you call it, would cost a fair amount, you're right.

But the solution I choose will only be for DMs and '@replies'.

Do you see?

Don't forget ZygoTweet.

So you're going to pay to receive text messages? But only DM and @replies?

Ergo, you too — James Whatley — *the* social media whizz, doesn't value
the normal Tweets enough to pay for them?

2008/8/26 Disqus <>

No – You're putting words in my mouth.

If I didn't have the tools I listed above available to me then I would pay for the traffic.
As it stands, I don't need to as I have other ways and means of dipping into the stream.

would you pay to receive tweets or to send them? Or both? I think the model has to be that the sender pays?

If a

Tweet

is made in a room

full of normal people

<Haikubreak>(you know, the ones MNO's worry about, the ones who actually Keep The Lights On)</Haikubreak>

does anyone

give

a toss?

(aka don't tweet the small stuff)

I like that model, njar, although it reminds me of various pay-to-send-email spam solutions. The problem with Twitter, et. al. is the signal/noise ratio. Look at Ewan's examples at the beginning, I might be interested in the coffee one, assuming it was something of an invitation, but that only works if you're near me. I also might be interested in a post like “About to see the new …. movie”, assuming I can easily comment (a'la Jaiku) and find out if it was any good.

For the first one, a location component would be helpful. There are things I may care about based on proximity, although this would require some additional categorization on the sender's end.

The only thing that's really missing with the loss of SMS is getting msgs pushed to your phone via SMS, right?
I don't think I've ever used SMS for the main twitter stream from those I'm following… I never used it anyway – agree with James here – the real value lies in DMs, @replies and #tags..
I've got push email on my phone, so every time I get a DM I'm notified…
If I'm following a conversation via #tag, I can just use mobile web… @ replies… mobile web…
Bothered? nope. Twitter less useful on mobile? Only marginally. Just get an email instead of an SMS.
A message is a message is a message… as long as it gets to me, I'm happy… don't care how.

Ultimately Twitters main issue right now is that it needed plain old SMS to try and gain traction into the everyday Joe's psyche. Everyday folks don't have RSS feeds, or email on their phone, or 78 different apps on their 'top of the range' handset. They will eventually of course, as the barriers come down and awareness goes up, but right now they don't.

There is no market right now for anyone trying to set up companies which allow users to pay for Twitters to be sent out on a wholesale basis (certainly not one which would justify the effort to set it up). The content works when it's free, but as we've all mentioned, when it's a discussion on 'cup cakes', then who actually gives a toss? It's a fun novelty for a geeky narcissistic 'elite'.

It'll be interesting to see how it grows/evolves in regions where SMS is still free such as the US. I actually think if anything there'll be a user backlash against information dissemination overload anyway. Who apart from bloggers actually updates their facebook status anymore? We're the trailblazers in new technologies and we're slowly reducing down our social network exposure and tightening up our digital footprints.. aren't we?

I think their future lies in the B2C world, although at that stage they're simply a software/solution vendor and they'll be competing in a much larger market..

Discuss 🙂

Meh. Why not just give some one your phone number?

I get what you're saying – I only ever used the SMS for DMs. But as twitter uses email to notify you of DMs anyway – why not just set up push email on your phone?

I do miss getting tweets on my phone, despite their almost-usefulness. I'd pay, but 5p/message is too high. The thing is how much cheaper can it go?

I wouldn't pay, period.
I now read twitter on the web or through the rss reader
Don't miss the tweets as I only received DMs on my handset and can use pushmail for that. Also none of my real life friends use it and would never use it if they have to pay for it
BTW, does anyone know the penetration/popularity of twitter among UK normobs?

I wouldn't pay, period. But I'm a cheapskate
I now read twitter on the web or through the rss reader
Don't miss the tweets as I only received DMs on my handset and can use pushmail for that.
Only used the tweets for following events like Spain's election and similar
Also none of my real life friends use it and would never use it if they have to pay for it
BTW, does anyone know the penetration/popularity of twitter among UK normobs?

I do miss getting tweets on my phone, despite their almost-usefulness. I'd pay, but 5p/message is too high. The thing is how much cheaper can it go?

I wouldn't pay, period. But I'm a cheapskate
I now read twitter on the web or through the rss reader
Don't miss the tweets as I only received DMs on my handset and can use pushmail for that.
Only used the tweets for following events like Spain's election and similar
Also none of my real life friends use it and would never use it if they have to pay for it
BTW, does anyone know the penetration/popularity of twitter among UK normobs?

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