ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday April 13, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 46
Financial Times  

SMS popular due to the rat race

Cell phones have become an essential part of the modern world, providing human connectivity in a way never before possible. While most cell phones are used for their original intent— one feature that users have begun to fully exploit in recent years is the short message service or text messaging.

“The short message service (SMS) has emerged as one of the most popular wireless services. People have got more busy and to a certain extent less personal. SMS has made the society 'faster' or the rat race has got faster and the ‘rats’ have got bigger," Nushad Perera, Chief Marketing Officer Dialog Telecom Group told The Sunday Times FT. He explained that traditional methods such as sending greeting cards are going out of favour fast among young adults. "It is more on SMS now rather than a greeting card, mainly due to the time consumed in shopping, etc," he noted. He said that the reason for the enormous popularity of SMS have been the fact that this mechanism of sending and receiving messages not only saves time but costs less as well. “In many situations one is relatively much more comfortable sending a message via SMS than talking over phone. With new information services and unique value added services being used by the operators the popularity of SMS is increasing further. SMS is also uniquely positioned as a very attractive advertisement medium. SMS should no longer be treated as a value added service in mobile networks. SMS is not only providing a useful mechanism for a host of innovative services over mobile networks but it’s acting as a point of entry for new data services like WAP in mobile networks,” he explained.

He said the next step in the evolution of SMS is the Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) that allows a combination of text, sounds, images and video. MMS will support pictures and interactive video. It will be possible, for example, to send mobile greeting cards and visiting cards using MMS. Dr Uditha Liyanage, Director Postgraduate Institute of Management pointed out that SMS reach across the board in society. "For an example the success of Sirasa Super Star reality television is largely attributed to the reach, which was primarily through text messaging," he said. He added that the producers of the show were able to reach every nook and corner of the country. However, he pointed out the real question is to what extent SMS is used for value added communication messages as opposed to just chatting.

Liyanage also noted that SMS show a commonality amongst the haves and the have rots. "This tool is available to some disadvantageous people as well. SMS has to a certain extent helped to bridge the divide between these two groups in terms of bringing about equality," he said, adding that this is an instance where the social divide has not necessarily overlapped the economic divide. "Also, the pace of life has increased," he added. He noted that sometime ago some service providers suggested that the total market for mobile telephones will not exceed one million users, but now it stands at six million. "This shows the potential for growth in the mobile telephony industry in the country," he added.

He noted that mobile marketing campaigns are already a very profitable business and growing rapidly. “Next-generation SMS applications will incorporate location-based capabilities that are now being incorporated into mobile handsets. This will enable a new set of innovative services that are targeted and personalized, further refining mobile advertising models and driving revenue growth for carrier operators, aggregators, and mobile content providers,” he said.


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