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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Why send an SMS?

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SMSs are very popular in India. In fact, younger generation — yes, I’ve crossed the other side of Indian median age — continuously communicates with friends through SMSs. They are advantageous in that sender and receiver can communicate when they are not in position of being able to speak aloud, say in boring class lectures. However, most of the usage is in situations where verbal communication is possible. I find this strange, mostly because, I am not one who does that. I see four disadvantages of SMS over phone call.

  1. SMS costs the same as one minute of call time, about 1/- and yet you can speak so much more in one minute than you can write in SMS, so more information can be communicated.
  2. SMS is cumbersome, lengthy and time consuming to type on best of all mobile keyboards, and most don’t have the best.
  3. SMS is one way communication while call is two way, including confirmations and correction.
  4. Sender of SMS expects a reply confirming the event (to make up for one way communication) and this doubles the cost.

It appears to me that even when you don’t bother about trivial charges, there are so many other benefits. Why do people still SMS when they don’t have to?

This article provides some interesting statistics for USA. Average consumer sends/receives 357 text messages a month (compared with 204 phone calls), while teen users sends/receives 1,742 text messages (NYTimes).

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