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Text Messaging -- The American Dinosaur

Aug 17, 2007
Globally, SMS text messaging is the most preferred method of communication between business executives. Ranking last in this group are American business execs. Why? Hard to explain considering SMS is the fastest form of communication ever invented, and also the most discrete form of electronic communication in existence. One would think these executives would embrace the convenience and immediacy of text messaging especially after being badly served by the cellular telecom industry for years. Poor handsets, poor coverage, poor services, bad pricing and inferior interconnectivity have been standard for the cellular industry since its inception. With this revenue powerhouse continuing to build, the success of SMS text messaging is hard to ignore. In 2006 this service generated 80 billion dollars of revenue worldwide that's as much as total Hollywood box office, plus total music industry plus total video gaming, combined.

Certainly these execs do not need to add text messaging to the long list of "Things My Teenager Can Do That I Can't." All teenagers in all countries can send text messages without even looking at their phone. They do it like a gymnast does a forward roll: easy. 48% of British teenagers admit to sending text messages while they talk to another person. One third of South Korean teenagers average 100 txt messages per day! The Belgian study at Catholic University of Leuwen found that over half of teenagers regularly wake up to incoming text messages from their friends.

Now for a reality check: the average e-mail is opened within 48 HOURS.

Hours.

A text message is immediate. Instant. Bam! It's there, on your phone, undeniable.

In 2002 the majority of UK executives used SMS in work related communications. Keep in mind; London business execs are even more conservative than New York lawyers and investment bankers. What are we missing?

By 2004 SMS text messaging had become the most preferred business communication method. Ahead of e-mail, voice-mail and voice calls. SMS text messaging among business users is the preferred means to communicate in uber conservative England! Even the Estonian government sends out the agenda for the meetings via SMS. The Finnish Prime Minister's voicemail greeting says, "don't leave me voicemail; send me a text message instead." The Singapore government has decided all e-government will be SMS-enabled.

Voice calls are barely a choice anymore. Consider the time it takes to actually connect with the person you are calling. More than half the time you call someone, you end up in voicemail jail. That person may allow your call to go into voicemail on purpose with the full intent on planning to call you back. But then meetings, a bathroom break, a bad signal, another call, their hands full all prevent that from actually happening. The actual case of getting straight through and being able to talk to your counterpart is certainly less than 25% and could easily be under 10% of all calls.

In any case, you can send a text message and it arrives immediately. Immediately into the meeting where phones are on silent. Immediately while he is talking to your competitor on the other line. He can read your message while he is carrying on the other conversation. Even if that person's phone is turned off, the moment it comes on again, your text message arrives. No need to check voicemail. Just read a quick note.

There are 2.7 BILLION cell phone users. There are 1.8 billion ACTIVE users of SMS text messaging. In Europe SMS usage is over 80% per capita and in Britain it is 85%.

To be fair, there is much we cannot do in SMS that we can use e-mail for. But for the fastest form of messaging and for the most urgent business communications, you can't beat SMS text messaging.

On another note, there is the discretion of texting. You can say things on SMS you cannot say in public. SMS is private, covert, and efficient. You can convey lots of data that is not easy on voice calls. Get a phone number, an address, a reservation code. Any time you need a pencil and paper, it's actually a lot easier to transmit that data via SMS.

SMS text messaging is like the communication of the elite. You get to the front of the line; the top of the heap, your SMS message arrives before any voicemails can be retrieved. SMS is like a VIP card, the right to go ahead of the line, to cut lines ahead of the queue. What a privilege to have your communication treated as the most important!

Then there is the other item that we all need more of but no one can buy: TIME. The UK survey by the MDA reveals that the most valued use of SMS by IK business executives is to manage their time. The most valuable tool to manage their time is SMS text messaging.

Norwegians and the Irish in Europe average 2 messages per day. Malaysians, 4 messages per day. Koreans 10, Singaporeans 12 and Philippines 15 per day.

Then there is the American Dinosaur. Out of Americans today, according to the latest data by the CTIA, 42% of Americans send text messages, and they average 0.6 text messages per phone user across the whole country. This is totally in line with the UK five years ago or Finland 8 years ago. Americans must see texting as a corporate efficiency communication tool, and not just the next teenager cool thing.
About the Author
Anthony Wayne is a marketing assistant at Advanced Telecom Services with offices globally. Advanced Telecom Services supplies bulk text message alerts to media, advertising agencies, and schools. He sent 2471 text messages last month.
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