My preliminary goal for the research project is to develop services
for text messaging, drawing inspiration from successful initiatives in
the Philippines while adapting to the Canadian context.
Text messaging is extremely popular in the Philippines because of its
convenience and low cost. Availability of low-cost prepaid units and
inefficiency of landline providers result in high market penetration
for the cellphone. Ringtones, games and screensavers provide
significant revenue and plentiful advertising opportunities for
telecom companies and content providers. Value-added services through
text messaging are also popular, and our infrastructure makes it easy
for content providers to make a new service available.
WAP and GPRS are also increasingly popular. Just today, my friends and
I browsed a prominent news site for breaking news about the latest
political scandal. (Various groups are calling for the president to
resign, etc.) Specialized feeds provide news on shopping, sports, and
other popular topics. These services are advertised in mainstream
Of course, the primary use of texting is still communicating with
other people. Jokes, quotes, ASCII art teddy bears and even
mock-animated figures are passed around and carefully stored for
future forwarding. Text makes it easier for many people to communicate
despite noise, shyness or disability. Indeed, one of the first
ads promoting text messaging showed a couple communicating through
text. When they finally met, they used sign language.
A number of foreigners who've gotten used to texting in the
Philippines wonder why it hasn't really caught on in other countries.
If it fits the research group's goals, I can work on:
- tracking the changing attitudes and abilities of a group of users as
they start using cellphones to text each other
- prototyping value-added services available through text messaging
(push: announcements, quotes, reminders, etc.; pull: queries;
(On the other hand, if everyone wants to focus on blogs, I can do that
too. =) Blogs and communities are lots of fun.)
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