Ben and I have been talking lately about SMS being the next inflection point in the evolution of text messaging. For time sake, I'll spare handwritten letters, faxes and telex, and go straight to modern times with e-mail and then IM. In each of these inflections, consumers basically did the same thing from a behavioral stand point. Consumers embraced a medium, got used to it, found new ways to leverage it, and ultimately personalized it.
E-mail: Consumers used unix based e-mail systems at schools, then eventually through ISPs such as AOL, Prodigy and Compuserve. Then they went out and used e-mail services like Hotmail and Yahoo!. Many people used these services for specific purposes, such as lurking or socializing. They eventually personalized their e-mail addresses, such as firstname.lastname@example.org, but also had other less revealing addresses like email@example.com.
IM: Consumers' buddy lists on IM services began as a few friends or relatives. It was truly a tight buddy list originally. But over time, as consumers gained more comfort with the medium, they began adding people to their buddy list-perhaps people that they only met online somewhere. Now, some people have more buddy list friends than offline face to face friends. What's more, is consumers now customize their avatar, dress it up, buy Nikes for it, etc.
(Not to deviate from the thesis, but mobile phones in general have been this way too. For example, mobile phones used to be scarce, only used for emergencies or for business, but are now standard issue. Wallpaper, colored phones, ringtones, ringback tones, etc, are all examples of personalization. Again, consumers start the adoption curve carefully, but then take the medium head on).
So here we are with SMS, the next inflection in text messaging. This is really quite analogous to IM, but with mobility and a phone number addressing scheme. Consumers are indeed growing more and more comfortable with this medium, using it more, even though it costs money each time. Consumers are even texting with people they don't know well. What if e-mail addresses contained your home phone number? No way right. Well that's what happened with SMS. We figured someone had to try and address this issue, so that's one of the things we're doing. That's a long winded way of saying that I think jangl will play a part in the continued evolution of text messaging. There's basic usage and then as consumers get more comfortable with it, we'll help them personalize it. We'll even take it so far as to say consumers will be able to publish access to their phone number in places like MySpace. As always, there's more to come.