Why SMS Should Die


I have rather a large dislike for SMS messaging, stemming mainly from my hatred of numeric keypads. But not only is it annoying to write SMS it is more annoying to pay for sending them. So here is a little bit of mathematics for you.

The maximum SMS message size is 160 characters. One character equals 8 bits, one byte. And there are 1,048,576 bytes in 1MB. So 6553.6 SMS = 1MB of data (1,048,576 / 160) Now to say an SMS costs 5p you end up with a cost of 32,768p, £327.68 to send 1MB of data. Now of course I am not saying that this is a situation that the average SMS user will be in.

The point I am making is that if email replaced SMS we would have an infinitely cheaper and richer messaging experience.

On my network (O2) I have an unlimited data plan for £10 a month, so putting that into messaging terms you are getting unlimited messages (containing text, pictures or whatever you want) for £10 a month (compared to 200 text messages). Also if you compare my free broadband service provided by talk talk (FREE with the landline) I can transfer 40GB of data a month, which in SMS cost would cost me around £1.308×10^10 (£13,080,000,000) So what I am really asking is how can they overcharge so much?  I know not everybody has an email capable phone, and everybody has an SMS capable phone, but this is where the change needs to be made.

It is not only a matter of everybody having email capable phones (which most people do, even if they do not realize), the main hurdle is getting people to use email instead of SMS. I see the only way forward is just getting rid of SMS so people are forced to have a much more pleasant experience.

One thing holding us back, is the absence of a cheap, easy to use phone with only the main features you need. Maybe Android (Google’s open source phone operating system) can provide us with something along these lines. Having a few simple features such as Phone, Address Book, Camera and Mail I could see this phone being far from unpopular. Although in this case people may not like paying £10 a month for unlimited data use, so I would say if orange can give us free Facebook they can give us at least 1000 free emails a month.

Update: I just stumbled upon a short article on Gizmodo confirming my point I left out of this post. In Japan SMS is non existant and everyone uses email, so it IS possible. http://i.gizmodo.com/5145203/for-japan-email-is-a-cellphone-phenomenon


1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    gary said,

    At the end of the day. the networks want to make money. That’s natural, and there’s obviously very close ties between the phone manufacturers and the networks. They work closely together to work how as much money an be made as possible.

    They’re loving SMS because it’s so expenisive, and their customers are paying 10 a time for practically NOTHING!

    The problem is complex and sorting it wont be simple.

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