Don’t text me

I’ve had more and more friends texting me lately and I’ve had to explain to them how much I hate text messaging. It’s inconvenient, unreliable and costly.

Here’s a typical exchange:

“R u there already”

“Y, u”


This exchange takes a lot longer than if the person just called me. If I happen to be in my car when someone texts, it could be another 45 minutes before he gets a response.

Text messaging is a great deal for the carriers – a text message uses very little network capacity compared with a voice call and they charge a lot more for it. The exchange above would cost me 45 cents; a call is essentially free.

At Sprint’s a la carte rate (15c per message), it would cost more than $2 million to fill a 2GB iPod Nano. Or, a whopping $60 million to fill a 60GB hard drive. And that’s being extremely generous, assuming that each message is the maximum of 160 characters. If the messages were the average 8 characters in the example above, the cost would be $1.2 billion to fill the hard drive.*

It’s not just the money, of course. It’s also about the principle. I can’t think of another scenario where someone else initiates an action that forces you to pay money. Even with cell phone calls, you can see who is calling for free, before deciding to accept the charges.

It’s annoying to pay for text messages from friends; it’s downright wrong to have to pay for texts from spammers. Text messaging would be much more acceptable if the person who sent the message paid for its delivery, as is the case in Europe. At a minimum, carriers should let you block certain numbers from texting you – for free.

I could call Sprint and have them turn off all incoming text messages. But the networks aren’t good about informing the other party that the message didn’t go through. If you call my number and my phone number has been disconnected, you’ll get a recording telling you that. If you text me and I have blocked text messages, there’s often no such message; you’ll just assume I received the text and was ignoring you.

Then there are times when texting makes sense – I’ve used it at conferences or in bars where I couldn’t talk or there was a lot of background noise. There are also alerts that I’m willing to pay for, such as flight delay information.

* Note to class action lawyers: These numbers don’t take into account that a 2GB iPod and 60GB hard drive don’t actually offer the full amount of storage advertised.


About Rakesh Agrawal

Rakesh Agrawal is Senior Director of product at Amazon (Audible). Previously, he launched local and mobile products for Microsoft and AOL. He tweets at @rakeshlobster.
This entry was posted in mobile, wireless, wireless data. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Don’t text me

  1. Pingback: Apple’s iPhone fixes voicemail « reDesign

  2. Pingback: Twitter without the SMS bill hangover « reDesign

Comments are closed.