I received the following email this morning, apparently they’ll be no more outbound Twitter SMS for Europe, the UK and most of the rest of the World. The only countries to be keeping the outbound SMS service are Canada, India, and the US. Apparently it’s all down to the charges that our mobile network operators charge us for SMS delivery, which initially Twitter had been subsidising, however they can’t afford to do that any more and have begun to “rein in the cost” by disabling the service. I can’t blame them, however I think it’s a shame that they set a precedent by enabling this functionality, only to take it away.
Oh, and good luck to them as they “negotiate with mobile operators in Europe, Asia, China, and The Americas” but I can’t see this service coming back any time soon. And I wonder how long it will be before people are trying to find a way round this decision, potentially by spoofing a US, Indian or Canadian address, given that each of the solutions they have suggested have a cost to the user (either to deliver the SMS itself or to contribute to the datalink to the WAP service).
Changes To Twitter SMS
I’m sending you this note because you registered a mobile device
to work with Twitter over our UK number. I wanted to let you
know that we are making some changes to the way SMS works on
Twitter. There is some good news and some bad news.
I’ll start with the bad news. Beginning today, Twitter is no
longer delivering outbound SMS over our UK number. If you enjoy
receiving updates from Twitter via +44 762 480 1423, we are
recommending that you explore some suggested alternatives.
Note: You will still be able to UPDATE over our UK number.
Before I go into more detail, here’s a bit of good news: Twitter
will be introducing several new, local SMS numbers in countries
throughout Europe in the coming weeks and months. These new
numbers will make Twittering more accessible for you if you’ve
been using SMS to send long-distance updates from outside the UK.
Why are we making these changes?
Mobile operators in most of the world charge users to send
updates. When you send one message to Twitter and we send it to
ten followers, you aren’t charged ten times–that’s because we’ve
been footing the bill. When we launched our free SMS service to
the world, we set the clock ticking. As the service grew in
popularity, so too would the price.
Our challenge during this window of time was to establish
relationships with mobile operators around the world such that
our SMS services could become sustainable from a cost perspective.
We achieved this goal in Canada, India, and the United States.
We can provide full incoming and outgoing SMS service without
passing along operator fees in these countries.
We took a risk hoping to bring more nations onboard and more
mobile operators around to our way of thinking but we’ve arrived
at a point where the responsible thing to do is slow our costs
and take a different approach. Since you probably don’t live in
Canada, India, or the US, we recommend receiving your Twitter
updates via one of the following methods.
m.twitter.com works on browser-enabled phones
m.slandr.net works on browser-enabled phones
TwitterMail.com works on email-enabled phones
Cellity [http://bit.ly/12bw4R] works on java-enabled phones
TwitterBerry [http://bit.ly/MFAfJ] works on BlackBerry phones
Twitterific [http://bit.ly/1WxjwQ] works on iPhones
Twitter SMS by The Numbers
It pains us to take this measure. However, we need to avoid
placing undue burden on our company and our service. Even with a
limit of 250 messages received per week, it could cost Twitter
about $1,000 per user, per year to send SMS outside of Canada,
India, or the US. It makes more sense for us to establish fair
billing arrangements with mobile operators than it does to pass
these high fees on to our users.
Twitter will continue to negotiate with mobile operators in
Europe, Asia, China, and The Americas to forge relationships
that benefit all our users. Our goal is to provide full, two-way
service with Twitter via SMS to every nation in a way that is
sustainable from a cost perspective. Talks with mobile companies
around the world continue. In the meantime, more local numbers
for updating via SMS are on the way. We’ll keep you posted.
Thank you for your attention,
Biz Stone, Co-founder