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July 13, 2007


Johnnie Moore

Hi Tomi: Interesting research but I'm not sure it stretches quite as far as you suggest ("the fastest way to communicate"). I think it shows that Texters are impatient for a reply; whether they get satisfied isn't clear.

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Johnnie

Good point. That research doesn't by itself certainly prove my thesis that SMS text messaging is the fastest way to communicate. It emphasizes that point.

I've argued it several times here at our blog and in my books, but briefly:

For the sender of any communication, hitting the redial button on the phone is the fastest way to achieve the contact. Under absolute perfect conditions (you are in network coverage, your counterpart is in network coverage, the other phone is answered, is the person you wanted, does not put you on hold, has time to talk with you, is not disconnected during the call) and both of you don't do much small talk, you can deliver a message to another person in slightly faster time than by sending a text message.

But - actual throughput of contact changes the whole equation. Then you more get into voicemail ping-pong, leaving messages at each other. Or worse.

SMS text messaging in the absolute worst case, is slower than a direct call, by less than a minute. But in most cases SMS texting is faster by minutes more more. And in extreme cases (the other person is sleeping, out of network coverage, on a plane, etc) texting is faster by hours, even days, than attempting to reach via phone call.

Same for email, voicemail, even Blackberry...

Blackberry is under ideal conditions as fast as SMS texting. For this both parties have to have Blackberries (or equivalent devices). But only 8 million people have a BB. So its as fast as texting for the two colleagues who also have BB's but what of your wife, kids, secretary, boss, the taxi service, etc etc etc. None have Blackberries, all have SMS texting enabled mobile phones.

Sorry to be too fast with my "texting is fastest" kind of glib comment. But I've done this "texting is fastest" rant so many times, it came out of my spine ha-ha...

If the above short version wasn't still clear enough what I mean - I do mean literally, that if you contact anyone, texting is the fastest, faster than a call, voicemail, email, IM, anything. Under ideal conditions a voicemail can slightly outperform, but its so rare, and its gain is so marginal, it won't matter. And Blackberry can match SMS texting speed if both have Blackberries. But SMS texting works for all phones, all users, to 2.7 billion people worldwide. Used by business and leisure, young and old.

You also make a very good point that texters are impatient yes. There is a culture developing that you have to respond to urgent text messages rapidly else your friendship is in trouble. Generation C (Community Generation) in Japan for example exhibits this. The time is 30 minutes, and nothing is accepted as an excuse for not responding to a friend asking for help via texting. Sleeping is no excuse. Being in school taking an exam is no excuse. Being in a meeting with your boss is no excuse....

You're right, texters are impatient ha-ha

Thanks for writing Johnny. Sorry I was too swift with my leap in logic :-)

Tomi Ahonen :-)

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