Last week, Twitter made the announcement that they had suspended outgoing SMS alerts in the UK and some other countries. The company cited cost as the reason. “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,” wrote co-founder Biz Stone in a blog post, and vowed to try negotiating better rates with mobile providers in countries where Twitter has an active user base.
Stone said that the UK, which accounts for 2% of all users on Twitter, was receiving 4% of all SMS messages, and disproportionately affecting how much it costs to run the service. For those that can’t wait for Twitter to set up new local numbers in those countries and negotiate better rates, two new third party services let you pay for SMS messages and get your Twitter-fix.
Australia-based TwitSMS and UK-based TweetSMS will let text message starved users pay to get SMS updates from Twitter. TweetSMS hasn’t yet launched, but plans to start its service in the UK only and expand from there. The site doesn’t list SMS costs, but promises that it “is likely to be at a fraction of the cost of a standard text message.” TweetSMS also says there are plans to eventually offer a free, ad-supported SMS delivery service for Twitter in the UK once they ramp up to scale.
TwitSMS is already available in 8 countries/areas (Australia, Belgium, France, Hong Kong, Ireland, New Zealand, Singapore, and the UK), and offers new users 5 free SMS updates to prove that the service works. Both services let you define which of your friends you want to receive SMS tweets from, and TweetSMS plans to allow users to receive digest updates of tweets every hour or once per day.
We’ve included the price chart for TwitSMS below. Because they use PayPal for payment processing, the company requires that users purchase SMS messages in blocks of 100 (they also offer larger blocks, but oddly don’t give volume discounts).
||Cost per SMS