Andy Davies

Web Performance Consultant

Alas, Twitter Cripples SMS in the UK (and Elsewhere)

Woke up this morning to an email from twitter saying they were scrapping outbound SMS messages for the portion of the world that charges for sending rather than receiving text messages i.e. anywhere that’s not the US, Canada or India.

The same message is on their blog too - Changes for Some SMS Users—Good and Bad News - and despite the title there was no good news in the post, only the vague promise that they’d introduce new local SMS numbers for unspecified countries within Europe in the coming weeks and months.

I can understand why they’ve done this - the costs of sending all the messages must burn through money - but by removing the service before a replacement is available I think they’ve screwed up.

Unlike the US, Canada and India, most of the world charges people for sending text messages but they also offer a way to charging people for receiving messages via SMS reverse billing.

In my view, twitter should have had this option up and ready to go before scrapping their existing SMS service. I guess the danger for them is that their users will continue to migrate to other service ( for example) or other ways of being notified e.g. RSS on phones, damaging their future revenue streams.

Perhaps the fact twitter are US based limits their understanding as to how people use mobile phones and how the networks work in the rest of the world?

Also as twitter is pretty open (via rss and the API), perhaps there’s also an opportunity for someone to set up a third party service to provide and charge for SMS updates?

Of course this screws up my traffic bot (uk_m5_traffic) as it relies on twitter to send out the SMS notifications. In the short term I can set up the feed reader on my phone to update from the RSS feed but longer term I guess I’ll need to see what twitter do and what other options I’ve got.