April 4, 2003

Why Text Messaging is not popular in the US

An interesting roundup of answers from the Economist on why America lags behind in sending text messages:

-- "The short answer is that, in America, talk is cheap. Because local calls on land lines are usually free, wireless operators have to offer big “bundles” of minutes—up to 5,000 minutes per month—as part of their monthly pricing plans to persuade subscribers to use mobile phones instead.

-- American teenagers can call locally for hours, for free, by logging on to the internet and using “instant messaging”. "Although IM users are shackled to their computers, IM has the advantage over mobile texting that each message is free". It's hugely popular.

-- "American telecoms regulations encouraged different mobile operators to choose different, incompatible technologies. Only last year did the largest American operators agree to pass text messages between their networks, whereas Europe and Asia agreed on a common GSM standard for the start.

The article finishes with a surprising jab at France: "There is one place in Europe that, on this matter at least, stands shoulder to shoulder with America. That country is France".

According to a recent study, in 2002, 585 million SMS were sent each month in France, or 16.1 text messages per mobile phone user. In America in 2001, only 0.3 SMS were sent per month, per mobile susbscriber.

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