Much more than a mobile

IT all sounds simple, doesn’t it? Punch a few keys on a mobile phone, send the message, and wait to see how much money you’ve saved at the end of the month.

What’s more, you (or maybe your secretary) will probably enjoy improvements in thumb dexterity and endurance through having to type so many SMS messages on your mobile phones.

Actually, that probably doesn’t seem so attractive an option for the people who send a lot of messages. Mobile keypads are rather small and fiddly, and there’s a lot of button pushing involved in typing out long words.

Fortunately, these considerations need no longer be problems. Numerous software and telephone companies have developed programs that allow computer users to send SMS messages to mobile phones, just like email.

Indeed, these programs often can be integrated with the mainstream email systems offered by Microsoft and Lotus.

A local Perth company, Amnet, for example, has also released a product that allows businesses to link their websites to SMS messaging.

The company’s general manager of e-business, Shaun Collopy, said a customer could visit a company’s website and post a request for a quote on a product or service. When the SMS link button is pressed, an alert is sent instantly to the mobile phone of whoever prepares quotes, allowing them to theoretically get to work immediately.

Mr Collopy said there was still significant growth in mobile-originated SMS and most SMS messages were still sent via mobiles, but the desktop-originated SMS was growing dramatically – probably faster than the use from the mobile phone.

“From our perspective the number of customers using it has easily tripled in the past six months,” Mr Collopy said.

“That’s attributable in part to increased sales efforts as well, but companies that we might have approached a year ago that hadn’t thought about it have taken it up in the past six months.”

As more corporate bodies take up SMS messaging they are becoming increasingly innovative in their use of the tool.

Coca-Cola Amatil recently ran a competition in which entry was possible only through the use of SMS, rather than dialling an 1800 or 1900 phone number or sending an entry form through the post.

Reports suggested that about one-third of Coke drinkers who bought a bottle during the promotion entered the competition, leaving the company to field about one million entries per week.

More generally, the marketing and advertising sectors are said to be particularly clued in to the benefits SMS offers, and are pursuing permission-based marketing with vigour.

Mr Collopy said that contacting people who agreed to receive advertising via SMS was highly lucrative in that it produced almost immediate results.

“The big thing they’re finding at the moment is that there’s a big novelty factor. Not a lot of people have received an advertisement via SMS. So as long as it’s sent to someone that has consented to receive it (businesses are) getting a really good response.”

The alcohol industry also has caught on. Numerous nightclubs and pubs across Perth are alerting regular customers or members to events to be staged or when special drinks offers are available. The recipients are then asked to present their mobile phone message at the club or pub’s door to get in or receive the discounts.

In Sydney, boat owners can pay to receive updated weather warnings via SMS instead of through a fax machine.

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