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SMS, mobile web and applications

foursquare - Check-inSince a couple of months I’m into foursquare. Checking in to every place I go, getting points, and competing with friends. When people see me checking in they more than often raise an eyebrow; wondering what I could find interesting in that. But once you are caught you just can’t stop yourself checking in everywhere you go. I like it so much that I have applied to become a super-user, and was accepted. This allows me to correct entries with invalid data including incorrect location, address and name.
You would assume that as soon as you have data coverage and that, in a city like London, coverage should be fine. Well, the reality is quite different. I work in the City of London and it seems the network I’m on is rather overloaded. Even when I manage to have 3G coverage — which is becoming rare—my check-ins attempts often fail.

Playing games, browsing the web, checking ebay, receiving emails and other activities that require data connection are all very slow for me.I’m however able to make and receive phone calls and can send and receive SMSs. Interestingly enough several months ago it was the opposite. My phone was dropping calls and I was receiving SMSs with delay, but data was fine. Now, this is only for games and other non-critical services, but that that leads me to think about Enterprises and their approach to mobile.


Rich Apps only?

loadingThere are more than 5 billion active subscriptions; this number is bigger than any other electronic device that ever existed. No other device has been so widely used yet. They can do several things as connecting to the internet and give you access to web or WAP pages, play games, listen to music, take pictures and videos, wake you up, remind you of events… Not all the handsets support those features though, however all of them support voice and SMS.

I read here and there writings about how SMS is a thing of the past. I have never quite understood why people would think that. Some companies have a more realistic approach to mobile. In Tomi Ahonen post about MMA Forum Asia review we can read that for Coca Cola “‘SMS is the number 1 priority at Coca Cola in mobile’ and that you need it to reach just about every person on the planet. He later added that the mobile web is number 2, and smartphone apps are a distant number 3″. This seems as the obvious strategy to me but that’s good to see that a major brand understands it that way too.

What to do about that?

Rich clients applications are fine but they shouldn’t be the only channel. Where possible you should multiply the available channels with SMS being your primary one. Not doing so would be like building a web portal and stopping the hotline services: that may work fine for some of your customers but that will not work for a lot of them.

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