2016-03-18 — Boy, was I wrong about this one. In my defense, though, it was pretty awful to read email on your phone in the year 2001.

“It’s the interface, stupid!”

I got in a discussion recently about text messaging on mobile phones. I don’t understand why so much money is being pumped into this concept. Even those nifty little thumb-keyboards are not going to get people to start sending eMail over their mobile phones en masse. Y’know why? BECAUSE IT’S A MOBILE PHONE!

Trust me. It can wait until I get back to a desk.

Why do we have eMail?

  1. To transfer files
  2. To send spam
  3. To communicate with someone who cannot or will not allow us to reach him on a telephone

That’s it, really. What else is the point of eMail? Can you think of another purpose?

Now, I don’t know about you, but I am pretty much never going to want to receive files on my mobile phone. Check it out: That spreadsheet? You eMail it to me and I will check it out when I get home or to the office.

The spam? Do I really need to tell you that I don’t want spam on my mobile phone?

And the last reason? You want to reach me, but I won’t give you my phone number. If that’s the case, then I don’t give a crap about reading whatever it is you have to tell me right now, on my phone. Trust me. It can wait until I get back to a desk. Not just because I am trying to avoid you, but also because I have a problem if I am going to respond to you. The problem is this: If I don’t care enough about you to simply TALK to you on my PHONE, that means that in order to reply to you I’m going to have to TYPE something. And there is just no simple way of typing into anything small enough for me to want to use as a mobile phone.

“But,” you say, “what if I could call a messaging service, speak my message, and they would type it to send as an eMail to the recipient?” Genius? I don’t think so. If I’m going to call someone and speak my response, why don’t I just call the damn fool who’s trying to talk to me in the first place?

It just doesn’t make sense to me. Phones and eMail are not supposed to go together. It’s kind of like the whole WebTV concept. I don’t want to browse the web on my television. Why would anyone want to do that? The web is (at heart) a textual medium. You can’t read a TV!

There are 6 comments on this post

  1. “To communicate with someone who cannot or will not allow us to reach him on a telephone”

    Oooooh, when I read that – just for a moment – I was sure you were talking about me and my X. that bastard!

  2. now that’s a rant!!!

  3. amen to that, brother.

  4. i think sms is extremely useful. in europe and in asia sms is a widely accepted form of communication (20 billion (that’s with a b) messages a month are sent world-wide and 20 million a day in asia alone). most people use it more than voice in many countries.

    for me, the advantages of sms over voice on a cel are:

    – it’s cheaper than voice as far as use.
    -it doesn’t require a deduction of your ‘minutes’ if you’re on that type of plan. in some providers, it’s even free and unlimited.
    – it takes up less bandwidth than voice.
    – sometimes i’m in an area where i can’t get a signal to talk to someone on the phone but 99% of the time i can send that person an sms.
    – if that person’s phone is out of range or isn’t on. the minute they come in range or on, the server will send the stored sms and send it to them.

    – in an area where you can’t hear the phone or the person on the line. (club, bar, construction site). a simple message like ‘where the f-ck are you?!’ or whatever can be sent and responded too quickly. there are even bars in asia that let you sit down and sms your order and where you’re seated to the bartenders, a server confirms the info and the drinks arrive soon after without the headache of battling at the big bar.

    – one way communication. did you ever want to call someone hoping that you could leave a voicemail and instead they pick up the phone and start chatting with you? this is why sms rocks. you send a message (‘be there in 5 minutes’ ‘i’m at the record store, do you want me to pick up the new n’sync cd for you?’, etc.) and there’s no conversation. it’s a good bull **** filter.

    i’m with you in that email and the whole ‘internet on your phone’ thing sucks. i don’t know why people feel compelled to put everything into one device. but sms has been very handy for me to buy tickets with my handphone it’s convenient and it doesn’t require a credit card, the cost is deducted from your phone account. the geeky side of this is that you can do the same thing with soda machines as well.

    and with regards to typing message, it’s fast and easy.

    my point is sms is not the internet and it’s not email (it’s only similar because it uses a server and has headers for tracking) and should never be. i understand your rant but i blame the way u.s. providers structure their plans so that short message service isn’t a cheaper alternative. they want you to talk on the phone. they want you to NEED more minutes and buy bigger plans. the technology has been there for years and these providers elect not offer it in order to cash in on the higher ticket item (voice calls).

    that’s my 2 cents, sorry it’s a bit long but it’s the day after thanksgiving and i have the day off.

  5. hey, what happened to my line breaks?

  6. I’m not sure about SMS, but email does serve purposes other than the few you named. I do not want to call everyone on the phone. Email is cheaper, can transmit information faster, can allow more detail than a phone and allows for people to communicate in non-real-time. People also view email as less imposing than a phone call because you can always hit the delete key, which is harder to do when you’re on the phone (thus, telemarketing’s success).

    On different note, Blackberry seems better than a phone because at least you get a QWERTY keyboard.

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