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How important is mobile/SMS?

There is a nice television commercial that is being shown currently on the Indian TV channels. The Nokia advertisement seeks to dispel the commonly held notion that phones are used just for talking. A number of applications are shown, including video recording, still photos, MP3 music, FM radio and of course text messages. Though text messaging is a big improvement on the pager (remember it?), today it feels impossible to live without it.

For the younger generation, life is unimaginable without a mobile phone. For them it is like an extension of their hands, a handy tool to say so many things. The young people have devised a peculiar lingo of missed calls and text messages by the dozen. Text messages are an improved version of the old pass-the-note messaging, especially in the classroom as SMS messages scurry to and fro. Text messages are ideal to send to people because they are stored in their handsets to be read when they are free. Sometimes a call might catch the receiver at an awkward moment and he may prefer to ignore it at the time. Text messaging is possible on every mobile phone and some landline phones also.

Text messaging has proved to be a profitable revenue earner for the telecom companies thanks to the TV channels. Almost every program advertises a short code (three, four or five figure number) for viewers to send text messages with their opinions. Marketing companies have used text so extensively that the courts stepped in to restrict the usage.

Sending text messages is also very convenient because this medium is very suitable for sending payment reminders, payment intimations, disaster alerts, SOS calls, greetings and courtesy calls can be transmitted in this form. Receipts of payments like utility bills, club fees, subscriptions, renewals and so on can be sent by way of SMS messages.

Text messages have proved their worth during the last few years as the ownership of mobile phones exploded to 60 million sets. During times of crisis, governments have rushed SMS alerts to citizens warning of floods, earthquakes, etc. Thanks to its ease of use, more people are taking up text messaging. The mobile phone is now seen more as an accessory of modern life than as a novelty item. There are now more than 120 million phones in India, of which landlines constitute less than half the number.


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