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SMS Text Messaging … 21st Century Vice or Virtue?




by: Jo Wintour

The Short Message Service (SMS), more commonly known as text messaging, is currently the most used mobile phone service. Frantic wrist action is enjoyed everywhere, even to the point of etiquette, as consumers are spotted texting in restaurants and bars, at weddings and in meetings. The semi-anonymity of ‘text’ seems key to its popularity, as it provides a comfortable amount of distance, but allows almost instant communication. The world of SMS is expanding so rapidly that many people are of the opinion that text will overtake talk as the preferred form of communication. It could be argued that a great percentage of people find “text” easier and perhaps less embarrassing to articulate their thoughts. Many intimate confessions have been communicated by text, including the recent escapades of Paris Hilton and Charlotte Church.
Research suggests that introverts prefer texting as they have the opportunity to think about what to say, removing the pressure of articulating an instance response. Some people also find text a useful time-saving medium by removing the opportunity for small-talk. With text, mobile users can get straight to the point, much appreciated by people who simply do not enjoy talking on the phone.
Text opportunities are endless. The Live 8 ticket lottery was a very high profile use of text. Over 26 million people took part in the text messaging campaign this month to support the work of Live 8. Throughout the concerts, viewers were urged to send a text message consisting of their names in order to strengthen the message sent to the world leaders. As text is such a convenient option, many believe that this campaign was more successful than a “phone in” campaign would have been. The appeal posed little challenge for the public viewers, who sitting in the comfort of their own homes, could easily reach for their mobile phone and interact with the Live 8 campaign. Furthermore, the lucky concert attendees were encouraged to send a quick text in between dancing to the live acts. As this took very little effort the response rate to the text appeal was phenomenal.


There are many companies keen to exploit entertainment products and packages through mobile phones. The media industry, particularly radio and reality TV shows, is continuing to cash in on this popular method of communication by engaging viewers to text in and express their opinion. Hit TV shows, such as Big Brother, Pop Idol and Celebrity Love Island, are inundated with texts from the public wishing to save their favourite person. Other media companies promote text as a convenient way to enter competitions. Text messages ease the tedious routine of entering a competition via a phone call, where engaged lines and automated instructions are inevitable, they are also faster and less hassle than snail mail and often more cost-effective.
Entertainment isn’t the only industry to exploit SMS. According to textually.org, the top 10 uses for SMS in the US include:
1) Alerting mobile technicians to system errors
2) Alerting mobile execs to urgent voice messages
3) Confirming with mobile sales personnel that a faxed order was received
4) Informing travellers of delays and changes
5) Enabling contract workers to receive and accept project offers
6) Keeping stock traders up to date on urgent stock activity
7) Reminding data services subscribers about daily updates
8) Alerting doctors to urgent patient situations
9) Letting mobile sales teams input daily sales figures into corporate database
10) Sending mobile sales reps reminders of appointments and other schedule details
A more advanced form of text messaging, dubbed the XHIBIT, involves witnesses in criminal court cases automatically receiving a text when they are due to appear in court. Many have favoured this easy method, claiming it effectively reduces the time witnesses of crime have to spend waiting around in court. This is also in place to support the police force, who claim that less time is wasted in the court through this technology. Research suggests that XHIBIT text could save 80,000 police days every year.
Additionally, text provides an additional medium for support services. Examples include encouraging messages for those trying to give up smoking and messages of advice for those suffering from anxiety problems. Furthermore, some people rely on receiving texts with the latest news, such as stock quotes and weather updates.
With the digital and communications market expanding so rapidly, research suggests that text will continue to see many improvements and will consequently become a more fundamental part of our everyday lives.
For more information about text opportunities and the latest developments see:
http://www.sonyericsson.com
http://www.newindpress.com/
http://www.ngfl.gov.uk/news
http://www.textually.org
About the author


Jo Wintour
Loves travelling, good music and eating out
jo@bigmouthmedia.com


This article was posted on August 19, 2005


©2005 - All Rights Reserved



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