April 14, 2005 21:23 | Technology

SMS training

I just received an SMS text message from my wireless service provider, Fido, asking me if I wanted to participate in a game-slash-contest. It provided the URL for more information: http://www.fido.ca/k/.

In a nutshell, they've constructed a whole story whereby "K" sends me 2 questions a day via text-message, and somehow "right answers" move you ahead in the game, and closer to prizes. Or something like that.

I imagine they are NOT charging the usual 0.10$/msg for participating. (At least I hope not!) So why do this?

Well, I suspect they want to drum up SMS usage - and revenues - by getting subscribers accustomed to SMSing. Why else would the contest microsite put so much emphasis and effort into the "Learn how to Text Message" section?

The sad thing is, of course, users would text message if carriers lowered or outright dropped charges for doing so. Lower the barrier to entry, find the tipping point, reduce the friction; the value of text messaging is VERY apparent but the costs demanded are obviously too high for users. Every single person I ask to SMS me answers the same thing: "but that costs me ten cents a pop!"

The customers already WANT to use text messaging. It's all about finding that point where the value of the tool matches it's price. I think Rogers/Fido need to hire some expensive consulting firm to give them a fancy report that would state "reduce your SMS rate by a factor of 10 and you will see a 500 fold increase in usage." Hellooooooo!?

Oh, and if I get billed for SMSing this bot I am gonna give them a piece of my mind...