Vodafone are capitalising on the huge and frankly unexpected success of text messaging by giving away free PC software that allows users to send text messages from their computers.
Compatible with either Microsoft Outlook or IBM’s Lotus Notes, Vodafone Text Centre makes sending SMS messages as easy as sending an (expensive) email.
Although the software itself is free, sending a text message costs the usual amount (about UK£0.10, €0.15). Cleverly, replies can be directed to the senders phone, or to their Text Centre inbox. Other features include sending messages to multiple distribution lists and a calender function to send a text message to remind you of a meeting – if you somehow can’t remember to set either the calender in your phone or PDA.
Orange released a similar product recently, the PC Messenger. During testing at the office, we were disgusted to see that the test text we sent took 12 hours to arrive – not quite to what texting is about. Not surprisingly we haven’t used it again.
Every month, nimble-fingered mobile users send more than two billion grammar-free text messages in the UK. Indeed, texting accounted for 16% of Vodafone’s revenue in the last financial year, which must be startling profitable when you consider the service essentially costs next to nothing for the network operator to provide. By providing a PC client for texting, Vodafone is no doubt hoping to increase the market still further.