Twitter stops sending SMS effective immediately, users have to go on cold turkey


That is the the kind of unpleasant mail you do not want to see in the morning, although it was to be expected. Twitter will cease sending out SMS – that is if you are not living in "Canada, India, and the United States", but even then it gives you an outlook on what to expect for these countries.

You can read the full mail here I have attached the complete mail and put the link on how to receive DM by mail plus some remarks / questions below that. [As by experience from myself and others Twitter does not answer questions if mailed to them it is easier to ask you this …].

Set up Twitter to send messages by mail
Most people I know do not use Twitter with a higher userbase than the suggested 10 friends, but do use SMS for direct message receiving. This can be replaced by receiving the messages via E-Mail which you can switch on in the Settings ("Direct Text Emails:

For replies summize search via mobile feedreader is your best option.

Prepaid cards to finally work in the US?

I’m sending you this note because you registered a mobile device to work with Twitter over our UK number. […]
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.

I did not choose that number but you forced me to do so, but that set aside – does this mean the US T-Mobile Prepaid cards finally work with twitter? You may remember my problems around this as not only receiving but also receiving SMS was not possible.

Also it would suggest that while I am in the US (or India and Canada) I should be able to reset my number to the US system and receive / send SMS for free?

The mobile phone providers who would not see the light …

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. […]

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.

I am not sure what "our way of thinking" is, but to me this is very clear: You send SMS, you pay for SMS. It is a bitch to negotiate with all the mobile phone providers and to charge your customers for this, but basically we could have told you that from the beginning. Different to the US for example, I never payed for any normal SMS I receive because in Germany you do not pay for that other than a Premium SMS.

Rather than ‘letting them see the light’ we did suggest early on to work on a system for charging the user. For a short time it looked like they experimented with it, as I described in Twitter to monetize by credit based system?

Hint: Taking the unevolved US market as a basis for how the SMS business works around the world is amusing but not a good biz modell …

The mobile interface will get a DM tab then?

He goes on to recommend using the mobile interface which – as you might remember – up til today do not even provide you with a usable interface for seeing your replies or your DM. You can test it out by pointing your browser to (click on "view twitter in standard" at the bottom to go back to normal). It is not that we want to use API restricted clumsy twitter clients but we have to as the mobile interface is not working properly.

I guess it is on purpose, the "we tried to work with mobile phone providers as we believed they would pay us" idea instead of having a usable interface idea …

btw biz:

Hey folks, if you want to discuss this with us, we have an open thread on our Get Satisfaction forum.

I have no intend to register myself an account there just to send you some feedback …

Some reactions (it is fun btw to watch the “twitter and sms” search on summize)

As expected, TC takes the number from the mail to put a price on it in “Twitter Ends SMS Support In UK; Says Costs Up To $1,000/user/year“:

“We’ve arrived at a point where the responsible thing to do is slow our costs and take a different approach” they said in the blog post.

Next up: a revenue model.

Mike Butcher in TC UK “Twitter cuts UK SMS – there goes another business model“:

It may come as a surprise to non-Silicon Valley American’s but not everyone in Europe has an iPhone or is on unlimited data plans. SMS still rules in Europe and makes any update services far more available to the mainstream.

VentureBeat correctly puts the blame on the mobile phone providers “Twitter kills SMS service in some countries over costs. Will someone kill SMS already?“:

Look, SMS is great in that it connects so many people around the world. But the fees associated with it are an absolute joke. It’s a very small amount of data yet carriers seem to think it’s okay to charge an arm and a leg for it. In the United States, AT&T switched its policy with the iPhone 3G to no longer include any text messages in its plans for the device. Now, if you want to send messages it’s $5 for 200 of them. That is ridiculous when you already paying for “unlimited” data.

@Tudor Davies:

Twitter now officially sucks ass! The removal of SMS updates could kill it real quick in Europe :(


@jtonline @mbites @dilan SMS costs Twitter a fortune (esp in UK), but stop’n core services is daft. Makes it pointless & another IM client.

@Peter Price

Well done Twitter, you’ve burnt through your cash by sending texts… what a shame you couldn’t do the maths. Your VCs must be very proud…


3 Responses to “Twitter stops sending SMS effective immediately, users have to go on cold turkey”

  1. Andraz says:

    Good summary of the situation. I am using BlackBerry twitter client (TwitterBerry) for some time now and I have to say it seems pretty solid offering. User interface could use some love (and integration with twitter search), but it really makes mobile twitter a breeze.

    but yeah, SMS has to die… but in order for this to work, there has to be instant messaging service that rules them all. And the fight doesn’t seem to be over yet.


  2. cathy says:

    Before too long everyone will receive emails direct to their mobile device – there will be no need for SMS

  3. Nicole says:

    Cathy: Only as long as you have data access. Which btw does not work without either getting broke or finding a new local sim card in every country you go to. :)