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Bridging the digital divide with eTXT. Killing SMS one innovation at a time

eTXT user

eTXT userWhen eTXT launched in March this year we wrote “Econet launches eTXT, erases line between SMS and the Internet”. We wrote this because the application was another knife in the side for SMS. Yes, we want SMS to die. It’s super expensive for subscribers and belongs to a different era altogether.

Anyway, I loved eTXT immediately and started using it, but some several weeks later I stopped. I logged into my account and just disabled everything. What made me stop is my Facebook online status. The system assumed I was online all the time so friends would start a chat with me and just get no response.

I’d have an avalanche of chats coming to my mobile, all needing responses. Typing back from a mobile phone is not the easiest of things to do (and it’s expensive) so most times I’d just wait until I got to a proper screen to respond, and needless to say, this infuriated my chat happy buddies; they thought I was just ignoring them.

Recently, I talked about it with someone at eTXT when they asked me what I thought about the system. I told them that I love the technology behind it but it just didn’t work for me. “This being-online-forever thingy just doesn’t do” I said.

“But you have the option to appear offline when you want and come back online when you please” he explained, “you do know that right?”

“umm, no” I answered, and offered some excuses, “I just started using the system. Didn’t check the manual. Didn’t think I needed to.”

So, later he sent me the definitive eTXT guide. I’m giving eTXT another chance. I’ll probably set my status permanently to “AWAY” just so friends understand I won’t respond there and then. If you have had similar issues, the way to do this is to send AWAY to 30000. The other statuses (commands if you will) are BUSY, ON, and OFFLINE. We uploaded the guide you can find it here.

By far the biggest complaint I hear about eTXT though is the cost. People just don’t like being charged 7 cents for every chat SMS they send in a Facebook chat session.

And it’s quite understandable why they complain. Chat and SMS come from two different worlds. Chat was created for the internet where users can freely check email and move data around without being charged per email or per chat. SMS on the other hand thrives in a world of its own; a very ‘ancient’ world (that mobile operators love) where it’s very normal for a user to become US 9 cents poorer for sending 160 characters of data.

Fusing the two platforms like ForgetMeNot Africa has done is a very noble and great business idea. It’s killing off SMS one technology at a time. But SMS will not go down without a fight. Its beneficiaries, the mobile operators, will not just stand by either. They’ll try to charge for every single chat message, every single email and for every ‘single item’ in the most bizarre ways imaginable. But SMS’s death is imminent. And when it does wither away, no one but the operators will mourn it.

image via etxt.co.zw


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27 thoughts on “Bridging the digital divide with eTXT. Killing SMS one innovation at a time

  1. Agreed that the traditional SMS will soon be a thing of the past.  But in the meantime, there are some other solutions that offer the best of both worlds.  biNu provides a unified messaging solution offering chat messages, SMS and email all in a fast mobile client that works on all phones. m.binu.com

  2. Well said, *hands clapping* Thought it was just me, the cost of those chat messages is just ridiculous. One question I always wanted to ask, who pays for the messages that I receive (notifications) from Facebook. 

    1. Still too high, it costs the networks NOTHING to send an sms!!!!An sms is send via data, and if you look at its size, less than 140b (that’s bytes, not KB or MB) when they charging you $0.10 for 1Mb, how many 140b go into 1Mb…. hhhhmmmm, let me see, thats the highest theft taking place from these networks!!!
      proud to say that biNu is making head way on the local market and we at http://www.facebook.com/telecelzw (Telecel Zw – The Unofficial Page) are happy to be associated with them.

      1. That’s the local businesses for you.
        They don’t update their online content. You’re lucky even to have found some online help about the service.

  3. I am sure that SMS is here to stay, at least for the next decade or so especially here in Zim. The reason bn that most people are slow to embracing internet and the internet based sms platforms that are there. I have been using dasuba.com since Techzim published an article about it some time back and I am very pleased with the service. However, I have tried a dozen times to convince some of my friends to try it but most are jus not so into it… Internet phobia I guess… Nway the point is that if many people embrace internet based sms platforms like dasuba, then we can start talking of the “death of conventional sms” but as things stand, its here to stay…

  4. internet inoda MAGETSI!!!! (even takati mobile, we still need to charge the phones). Hurumende yedu doesnt seem to realise this. Tichiri kugadzira magetsi ne mishini yakasiyiwa nemushakabvu Ian (nehurumende yake yehudzvanyiriri) kuma 60-70’s.

    Having said that, i echo ic0nic’s comment that SMS is still very much alive in Zim.

    1. agree. SMS is alive and will be so for some time. But the writing’s on the wall now. The SMS cheese is running out for operators and they need to look for new cheese, data plans that make sense for subscribers.

  5. biNu is dead, now they are its only four messages a day, soon it will be none. its free there if your friend does have an installation also but to convince others to install it thats a toll order. anyway if u buy buddie through TM Supermarkets u get free airtime

    1. biNu is only just getting to launch. Credits/sms are paid for and there is no way that you can expect a third party (non MNO) to offer FREE unlimited sms at their own cost. They have introduced credits that allow you to send more than 4 per day.
      They have credits going for just over 2c, thus meaning you can keep in touch at an affordable cost. The challenge you have with the TM airtime (and when Econet ran the same promotion through OK some months ago) is that those sms’ CAN NOT be sent to any other network. Plus added to that you have to buy Econet (read expensive) airtime, that you can’t transfer or do anything else with it but call (at high rates).Not that things are any rosier at the other MNO’s but it’s high time we come up with innovative ways and means or circumventing the network, once they start seeing their revenues droping, they’ll up their game (hopefully) and us users can benefit too.

  6.  whatsapp is doing the magic for, l use it for chatting, then use fring for video calling. $1 of econet air time gives me about 20mins of video calling and almost 2hrs of talking to my international friend.

    lf l send a picture through Whatsapp, its less that 28kb whereas skype or email the file will be at 2mb and its instant. A recorded video through whatsapp is for 33sec is about 200kb and also instant.

    1. I hope you know Whatsapp is only free for your first year of usage. After a year, you’ll have to pony up.

      1. Is it free to send messages to contacts in other countries?

        Yes, it is free to send messages to contacts in other countries, just like it is free to send emails to contacts in other countries

        l checked straight from there site there is nowhere they are toking about charging, send me the link if yu have

    2. I hope you know Whatsapp is only free for your first year of usage. After a year, you’ll have to pony up.

  7. how exactly is etxt killing SMS when it uses the SMS platform to create those chat sessions?????

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