Twitter SMS Users Outrage, Twitter Using Drug Dealer Economic Model?

That slightly popular communication service Twitter has announced changes to their SMS policy.

The main one is that Twitter is no longer delivering outbound SMS over their UK number of +44 762 480 1423. You can still update via the number but updates won’t be sent on via SMS.

Now the reason for this given is that it was costing the company a fair chunk of money, so it’s scaling back the offer while it tries to negotiate deals with telecom companies across the globe.

And there’s two interesting points from this – the reaction and the business opportunity.

The reaction has been hilarious/disappointing (depending on how you view humanity) with users from all walks of life, including a Liberal Democrat local councillor, all bemoaning it as if they have lost a limb.

The reality is that they’ve lost nothing. if they want to receive ongoing, real-time Tweets, the solution is simple: go and pay for it. Pretty much what Twitter would have had to do, but that concept seems to have escaped the majority who appear to just want someone else to pay for their service.

(Nic Brisbourne has posted one of the more sensible viewpoints as a contrast to the rants. Another good one is here.)

The other point is that if I was a company offering a decent 3G dataplan and had the capacity to handle it, I’d announce a product with Twitter front and centre. Even the iPhone could jump into this (in the UK it comes with a decent 3G plan). Make the most of Twitter’s change in circumstances to promote your offering, knowing that with even a minimal PR spend, all the Twitter people moaning about this (and the evangelists I suppose) will spread your message.

Personally, I don’t see what the fuss is here. I’ve alread pointed out that I find Twitter useful for journalism and PR, it can be educational, and it can be just good fun to keep in touch with people. Having said that it does have downsides (which I’ll address in a later post) and far too many people still populate it with rubbish (“had coffee. Tasted coffee-y”) and if people want to keep getting a service that they have had for a while for free, well welcome to the real world.

(a part of me actually wonders if Twitter planned this all along. It’s almost the supply model of the drug dealer – give something away for free for a while and then bring in the costs. And given that some people out there are saying they would pay for the service, that poses an interesting question. Of course I think it’s ridiculous that people would pay to receive SMS messages, but each to their own…)