How Twitter could Kill SMS (and save us all)

I have a blackberry. I pay $30 for a data plan that will let me send as many emails as I want. Full emails. Long emails. Emails with content, pictures, punctuation and correctly spelled words even. This data plan does not cover SMS though. For that I have to pay extra, or pay 15 cents per text or a $10, $15 or $20 a month plan on top of my unlimited data.

Here is a great article on SMS bandwidth charges.

The short version: we are getting ripped off.

Here is where Twitter comes in. Or could, I should say. The intranets were abuzz a few months ago because there was a rumor that Apple was going to buy Twitter. (and about eight other companies, but topic at hand) This got me thinking. What in the hell would Apple want with Twitter?


And no, Apple didn’t buy them, and no, I don’t think they are planning this, but this was the idea I had, the thing I reasoned out as to what value Twitter could have to Apple. Here is the idea: Twitter replaces SMS. Instead of sending a text message to someone, you send a direct message to someone.

Now, granted, this is a better idea for the data plan phones. Blackberries, iPhones and Androids all have a data plan and could add on a Twitter client to have this functionality (and should, damnit!). The normal phones would need some help.
The idea would be that a normal phone, one that would have to use SMS anyway, could SMS Twitter, something that can already be done, to bridge the gap between an older SMS phone and a newer Twitter phone. This isn’t as easy as it could be though.

The connection between the address book and Twitter still needs to be made on most of the platforms. I need to be able to find “mom” in my phone book, and hit message. Not what I’d need to do currently, which is find “twitter” and then type “d momstwitter message” If twitter clients could make this link, then sending a DM would be as easy as sending an SMS.

Then this provides all the advantages of SMS and all the advantages of Twitter at once. Need to contact someone? Just send a DM. It will act as a tweet and as an SMS at the same time. You can text someone (twext?) from your computer, and likewise they could answer from there. (something Google Voice is working on)

You’d have a telephone number independent way of mobile communication. Walk away from your carrier, your phone, hell, even dare to go out of the country without impunity. Your twitter account is still yours. 

Then as more and more phones have data plan options, more phone users can get off of SMS. With SMS plans as high as $20 a month and data as low as $30, the advantages that SMS brought once are slipping away. New phones will be more internet capable and features that were once only for expensive phones will be as common as cameras are today.

And maybe this won’t save us all, but it would be a step in the right direction.

Oh, and if you have a smart phone, email, IM, anything but SMS when you can.