Why SMS Matters (Even More)

Dutch HollisWe've talked before about convergence and what that might mean for the mobile web. It's easy to look into one's crystal ball and declare SMS a flash in the pan, dead or dying at the hands of the iPhone and other handheld devices with robust web and email capabilities. Why would I consider sending text messages when my gorgeous HTML email can get right to the users phone and will render properly?

The easy answer is that not everyone has a “smart phone” yet and you still need to communicate with customers that don’t have rich email and/or web capabilities. But that issue takes care of itself over time and eventually most mobile phones will have a web browser and email client as well as the broadband connection to use them.

Here’s another answer that may surprise you. It surprised me.

A lot of folks with smart phones don’t use these smart features. Some can’t even tell you if they have a web browser or email client on their phone.

A recent report by the NPD group as seen in MobileMarketer says, “only 20 percent of mobile phone users like to use their handsets as an all-in-one multimedia device for music, videos, Web surfing and other non-voice activities.”

The report goes on to point out that about 45% of users with phones that are capable of multimedia technologies, use the phones only for voice calls.

Further large portions of the audience surveyed are unsure whether their phones are even capable of such technologies from web to video to music playing to GPS. As the report points out, there are definitely demographic differences – younger users are more likely to use more features on a smart phone. However, the NPD says, “most U.S. consumers are aware of text messaging and the ability to switch ringtones.”

The bottom line? Technology is outpacing usage for large parts of the mobile audience. Regardless of what features are on a phone, substantial parts of the audience see it as a device for voice communications and text messaging – and you need to be where you audience is. For all but the most tech savvy demographics, this means SMS.

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  1. […] any of the smart phones mentioned. Additionally, we know that most consumers still use their phone primarily for voice and secondarily for texting […]

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