Since 160 characters is/was the common limit to SMS -- which I think carriers themselves define, it feels like the author is missing a pretty key element in Twitter's implementation. The reserved 20 characters _is for_ metadata. I don't know the SMS protocol at all, but I suspect if Twitter could have dropped metadata into a header or somesuch, they would have.
(Source: I spent 2 years building SMS-based applications for a mobile content company. I can format my SMS in binary, and trust me, there's no space in there.)
I am launching my own SMS content service very soon, just curious.
I learned a lot and the people who worked there were great, although it's not a company that's going places.
So consumers save money by sending a 10-cent SMS instead of making a 20-cent phone call.
Why is this? Well it suggests to me that they want to encourage people off the old SMS infrastructure, possibly due to capacity or manageability issues, and shift them onto the much newer GPRS/3G/whatever network.
* Yes I know you can send text by MMS and I have an E71 so typing isn't a chore anyway.
I think the 140-character constraint is a huge part of Twitter's identity and success. It forces concision. It's one of those constraints that breeds creativity.
And remember that the mobile Internet in the US is pretty good. In much of the rest of the world (the places where people have mobile phones but don't have computers) mobile Internet is still slow and poky. The switch-over from SMS to Internet hasn't happened even in the US yet, so it will be a long while before it becomes a good idea for Twitter to drop SMS, on the order of 5-10 years.
This pegs 'txt' as pretty darn low (3%): http://tweetstats.com/twitter_stats
Also months stats from Jan: http://dcortesi.com/2009/02/19/the-real-top-20-twitter-appli...
I stand by the value of SMS as a driver of valuable content, and in the developing world.
Twitter is the smoke signals of internet communication by comparison.
I couldn't imagine two things being more different, Twitter and email.
1. Twitter is primarily one-to-many, where email is primarily one-to-one.
2. Twitter is by default public, where email is by default private.
So why would Schmidt equate them, if they are so different?
This is the interesting question raised by the post. I'm not sure how to answer it; but my guess is that the answer is unlikely to be found by thinking about the details of the SMS protocol.
Email was the first great asynchronous digital mass communication tool built on the store-and-forward idea. Twitter (or SMS'd tweets, really) is another, much more limited form of the same technology.
The way I see it, since both are communication tools, this is why are equal. They soon diverge. The public and ad-hoc nature is where it is substantially different.
A gross simplification of primary use cases:
IM: 1 to 1, private, active
Email: 1 to 1, private, active
Twitter: 1 to many, public, passive -> active
The passive/aspect of the conversation becomes more organic in a public space -- changes into an active conversation when someone tweets back.
Why would he equate them? Only because it's a textual communication medium, IMHO. GTalk is in a way, an extension of GMail. If you're not there, it pops in your inbox. I don't see Twitter merging with email until it becomes part of the active conversation, something which should be pointedly and purposefully in your inbox.
I believe it's almost like a hazing ritual or proving ground. Twitter has enormous potential to integrate Google's Adsense (or more recently, FriendSense) or become another distributive voice for their products.
The question though is, does Twitter want to be bought? Is Google too big now to let Twitter remain truly innovative (I know the catch to this argument is that Twitter has not been very innovative at all actually)?
I have a feeling some big things will be rolling out the door. The founders have been smart enough to let the user base define the product, and I certainly believe that when the time is right, Twitter will be a killer.
Hopefully they don't wait too long though.
They already did this: Jaiku
What's the point of trying to buy out Twitter when you've already bought out a Twitter-clone.
But the first thing they need to do is change that stupid name.
So that leaves a buyout -- in which case, what are they waiting for? Google is not known for hanging around debating acquisitions. It gets in early (with the notable exceptions of YouTube and DoubleClick). So is it waiting for Twitter to prove itself? With CNN constantly plugging Twitter and even members of congress getting in on the act, how much more does it have to prove?
I think the time for Google to get involved has passed. They will partner with Twitter as an independent company, if anything.