Have you ever used Twitter by SMS? You can tell the service to SMS you whenever there’s a new Tweet you might interested in. At least you could until today. Twitter has decided to close down SMS sending from the UK, citing cost as the main issue. They report that as they were unable to get the deals they wanted with mobile operators, it would cost them around $1000 per user per year to maintain the service. In a bid to cut costs, they have eliminated the service in all but three countries, India, Canada and the United States. They try to temper their press release with some good news, which consists of a promise to find more operators in more countries.
The UK SMSs were sent by a Manx operator, so that’s probably a pretty big loss of revenue for them. Still, if Twitter’s idea of “working out something” with the mobile operators was too aggressive for Manx Telecom’s business model, then it might have not been viable for them to handle the business. Considering Twitter haven’t managed to get any traction with *any* of the UK providers, I’m sure they must have been quite aggressive in their proposition. One option could have been for them to tie the number to a premium mobile number and charge the recipient a couple of pence for receiving SMSs. This would then have left the choice up to the Tweeter rather than having the service snatched away like this. It could even have generated some revenue for them. Instead they seem to be taking steps to kill a captive UK market.
To tell you the truth, I’ve never used the SMS flavour of Twitter. Some claim that this was the reason behind Twitter’s penetration, but I just don’t buy it. Can you imagine how annoying it would be to receive SMSs every few seconds, just because someone Tweets. It would drive me bonkers. There are loads of Twitter clients around, which really just need a data connection and seeing the size of a Twitter data packet, it’s definitely more elegant a solution than SMS. However, if your phone doesn’t have a browser or email support, you’re stuck. Any SMS users out there? How did you find the service? Will you be able to live without it? Will you be switching to Jaiku?