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April 22, 2007


Martin Geddes

What about also...

- You don't need to file SMS messages away -- so you're not creating "inbox clutter", so lower barrier in the sender's mind.
- You can be assured of the privacy of an SMS -- it won't be read by the boss's secretary.

On the other hand, it integrates badly with any kind of "to do" list or activity planner. Not that email is much better.


Excellent observations! Given that we (US) are behind the curve in terms of business sms usage, are we headed towards a tipping point for sms use or will it just be a slow and gradual climb that will just plateau? How do you compare the usage in the US for App-to-person messaging vs. Europe?

Tomi Ahonen

Hi Martin and Tejas

Thank you for the comments

Martin - good points thanks. Totally agree.

Tejas - I'm sure America will adopt SMS in business at rapid speeds, just like most European and Asian business users did about 5 years ago. Once the business user discovers just one of the benefits, and notices that "hey, I have this device in my pocket, and the other person ALSO has the device upon his or her person" then the magic starts to happen.

It mostly happens first by trial-and-error, and a kind of accidential discovery, so for example you're in a meeting, and one of your subordinates (a young recent hire) sends you a text message into the meeting, asking for an answer to an obviously urgent matter. And while you can't leave this meeting, you decide to slowly thumb out a reply via the phone. Yes it takes you a minute, but you manage it, and the matter is resolved "magically".

This might happen again while you're in a taxicab, or stepping off a plane, etc. A couple of times later, you start to actively remember that you have the power of SMS text messaging in your pocket, and YOU start to pro-actively manage using SMS. Now when you are in the meeting, and some decision is made in the meeting which impacts your team, you might send an urgent message from the meeting to say your secretary to book immediately a meeting for this afternoon, to clear everybody's calendars and to get them all to be present, etc..

Yes, the power is so obvious (speed and secrecy) that any intelligent manager picks up the benefit almost immediately once they've started to experiment with it. Then it spreads to the point of very senior VP level managers spreading jokes in top level meetings, like children passing notes in class. But that comes later, when all are so fluent with SMS, that they can all send messages blind, and can type out messages faster than placing a phone call. Give that a couple of years, but it is inevitable...

Thanks for writing

Tomi Ahonen :-)

John Campbell

AFAIK Japanese phones don't generally use SMS. Instead they use some sort of push email system, charged per message. Hence it's quite common to get two contact details - both mobile number and mobile email address.

The advantage of using email like this is quite significant for users. Even on pay as you go phones you can send an email of up to around 4000 characters for about 15p. Compare that to SMS pricing in the UK (160 characters for 10-12p). Plus it's easy to send someone a message for free from a PC.


Text Message Blog

Certainly, I agree with everything you say, but one major difference between the American market and Europe and Asia is that internet connections are so ubiquitous in the USA and this has slowed the growth of SMS. Wireless internet is now at most restaurants, hotels, and in most cases, you can sit on the sidewalk in a city and pick up an unsecured wireless connection from some business nearby. Now that most forward thinking cities have banned smoking in public places, we can even begin to think about hanging out in restaurants again! There also has been extreme reluctance of advertisers to use SMS, especially any Premium SMS due to our stringent SPAM laws.

Graham Kay

I must admit this was a very interesting read and was quite enthusiastically put. It is very useful to get that historical background on the inconsistency and unreliability of SMS in the US. This may still cause some resistance to SMS usage but maybe companies with relatively young executives will have more traction.

I'm not that sure about the figures on the enterprise usage of SMS in UK from 2002 and 2004 - I'm not even sure that's true yet - in 2007 ! But it certainly is growing and fast.

Most importantly to me is that you give no mention at all about using SMS services to transmit data to, and from, enterprise systems - I thought there may have been a hint in the previous article linked to at the bottom -
Making Sense of the Biggest Data Application on the Planet, SMS Text Messaging - but NO ! - just the same mention of the revenues and profits for the telecoms companies.

We have developed a quite innovative application that uses SMS to capture coded key data from staff out in the field to record their activities. We store and display statistical and qualitative information for managers to undertand these remote business areas. This is proving very popular and productive with our UK and European clients and we are starting to make inroads into the US too.
I look forward to hearing more on this subject ...


alan timothy

I am a great believer in sms, I must also challenge the view that 3G data coverage is widespread in the US and Canada, just because you can get it in MAJOR urban areas does not mean it is common. Check out and then select US or Canada, I would estimate 3G coverage at less than 40%, with sms over 90%.
The level of coverage becomes important/crucial if you want to be certain of the transmission time, this includes in areas such as sales reporting.

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Faxing these days is no longer old-world. You can now send a fax over the internet; we call this Fax Over IP (FOIP). You can also send a fax directly from your email. We believe faxing is here to stay, one reason being that it's more official than SMS.

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