On the Demise of the Free Twitter SMS Service
Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 8 September 2008
Imagine the following conversation:
“Where are you going?”
“Down to the High Street. I’ve just received a message saying that there’s a guy giving away free £20 notes. Are you coming?”
“No. And you shouldn’t.”
“Why ever not?”
“It’s clearly not sustainable in the long run”
“Look, he’s clearly not got a sustainable business model.”
“And don’t try and tell me that he might be bought out by Google or Microsoft. You know that’s unlikely to happen. You can’t base your decisions on such speculative thinking.”
“Oh no.” Shuffles back to office.
“Where are you going?”
“Back to work”
“I’m pleased that I managed to persuade you not to be tempted by someone with such clearly flawed and ill conceived idea.”
“**** ***! All the money’s gone – and I missed out, thanks to you. And my friends picked up about £1,000.”
This came to mind after I received a email from Biz Stone on the 14 August 2008 saying that:
Beginning today, Twitter is no longer delivering outbound SMS over our UK number. If you enjoy receiving updates from Twitter via +44 762 480 1423, we are recommending that you explore some suggested alternatives.
The message went on to explain the the delivery of Twitter messages (Tweets) via SMS would continue in the US, Canada and India, as Twitter had negotiated business deal with the mobile phone provers in those countries. They hadn’t been able to negotiate a deal in the UK, unfortunately, As the email described “Even with a limit of 250 messages received per week, it could cost Twitter about $1,000 per user, per year to send SMS outside of Canada, India, or the US“.
Now when I wrote a post on Use of Twitter to Support IWMW Events in which I described how we used Twitter at the IWMW 2008 event to deliver SMS messages to participants for free using Twitter as the delivery mechanisms and then, a few weeks later, you heard that this service had been withdrawn did you think that that clearly demonstrates that organisations shouldn’t make use of free services with questionable sustainability models? Or did you think: “That’s an opportunity not to be missed. Let’s use it while it’s still going.“?