Keep up to date with the latest SMS Marketing news, tips and guides.

Ez Texting provides refreshingly simple, surprisingly affordable SMS Marketing services.

Try Ez Texting for free - it only takes 60 seconds to get started.

Developer? Use Our SMS API

← Return To Blog Home

Must Reads

Edited By for Ez Texting

41 posts categorized "Current Affairs"

July 30, 2014

Microsoft Finally Takes It's Head From the Sand... and Into the Cloud

Depositphotos_40325161_xs
 

After years of threatening to become a computing anachronism, Microsoft is transmogrifying into a cloud services provider with a strong focus on mobile marketing. 

Earlier this year, the tech giant put the finishing touches to its Windows Phone 8.1 OS, and promised delivery to consumers by ‘Summer 2014’. They’ve already begun integrating Nokia’s smartphone business, and shares have gone up by 25% since the appointment of new CEO Satya Nadella five months ago.

On the face of it, Microsoft is finally joining the cloud/mobile party that’s been in full swing since the turn of the decade. It’s been a long time coming, and competing with the likes of Google and Apple will be a tough road aho.

Critics have lambasted Microsoft for its reticence regarding the obvious consumer appeal of cloud computing, but their strategy has become more focused on Nadella’s watch, with the professed ‘cloud first, mobile first’ philosophy at last gaining credibility.

In particular, the firm has begun to recognize the need to give partners more control over the cloud services they resell. They recently announced the implementation of the Microsoft Cloud Solutions Provider program, which grants affiliates who resell products like Office 365 and Windows Intune greater control of billing and customer service tools. Says Phil Sorgen, Executive Vice President of Worldwide Partnerships:

“It fundamentally enables our partners to own the customer relationship.”

The program will expand gradually until it covers all MS cloud services. It certainly appears that Microsoft is offering the right incentives to partners. They are waiving the first year fee for new registrants wanting to sell Azure and Office 365, and increasing the number of internal use rights licenses by anything from 25 to 200 percent. Even their traditional on-premise software products are getting a 10 percent price slash for partner programs.

The jury is still out on whether this cloud and mobile marketing strategy will pay off for Microsoft. With hundreds of thousands of partners out their, the challenge is to meet the needs of a vast, heterogeneous group with extremely diverse priorities. Not all of them are thrilled at the way the wind is blowing.

Many long-time resellers and integrators will find themselves struggling to adjust their models to cloud-based services after years spent building business around on-premises Microsoft software. For one thing, on-premises deals are usually made with a one-time payment, whilst cloud services are sold by subscription. The latter generates recurring revenue streams – but the size of the deal tends to be smaller.

But Microsoft have realized that focusing on the future is the only way to ensure long term prosperity. Their attentions are pointed at the ‘born in the cloud’ generation of entrepreneurs who have never used on-premises software. For them, Microsoft’s evolution can’t happen quickly enough.

July 28, 2014

Court Rules in Favor of Carriers in Text Price Fixing Case

Depositphotos_47187855_xs

Recently a federal judge out of Illinois ruled in favor of wireless carriers in a controversial text messaging price-fixing case. Though the evidence appeared to weigh heavily against the wireless carriers in the form of suspect emails, opportunities for collusion, price increases in tandem, and expert testimony, it was not enough to convince the judge of actual collusion between the companies. The summary judgment of the court cited that the plaintiffs’ myriad arguments were insufficient to prove conspiracy – a tactic employed in the past by lawyers in antitrust cases – so the court’s rejection of the case is worth mentioning.

As you may have noticed, the price of a text message doubled between 2005 and 2008. The plaintiffs claimed that these increases were the result of collusion between wireless carriers. In one example, they mentioned an email from one company’s officer to another. This email appeared to have collusive and opportunistic overtones. There were instances of circumstantial evidence as well: well-timed trade group meetings between the companies in addition to the price increases at these companies occurring at the same time were cited as possibilities, with expert witnesses backing up their evidence.

The court official wouldn’t budge, even after the plaintiff’s supposedly significant evidence. The email was disregarded: though the official was an informed employee, there was no direct evidence of collusion present in his correspondence. In addition, there was no evidence that the trade group meetings contained any dialogue about collusion whatsoever. Furthermore, the price increases enacted by the wireless companies were spread out over the course of at least a year, showing that the increases didn’t actually happen at precisely the same time. The plaintiffs merely presented evidence that hinted at the conclusion of conspiracy, but this was not enough to prove that these companies colluded with one another.

There are consequences for the Illinois judge’s summary statement. Since the plaintiffs couldn’t prove their case in the end, this judgment creates a precedent for any other antitrust conspiracy cases. Several instances of circumstantial evidence coupled with expert witnesses proved to be insufficient to prove the defendants’ guilt in the matter – on the contrary, the arguments read as trite inculpation to the judge. In the future, these types of evidence will likely be thrown out of court or ignored by judges, requiring plaintiffs to have hard evidence to prove the existence of collusion in these cases.

July 24, 2014

Apple’s ‘Reuse and Recycle’ Prices Falling

Depositphotos_49798519_xs

Earlier this month, Apple quietly made a few key changes to its ‘Reuse and Recycle’ program. The lack of ceremony surrounding the changes are easily explained: it’s not particularly good news for customers.

Customers in Canada and the United States will now get less money for trading in their iPhone. The new top value is $225, versus the former rate of $270. Go back two years and Apple were offering up to $345 for a pristine iPhone 4S (then the latest model). The new pricing plan is the lowest since the program was launched.

Even with the higher prices on offer, Apple’s recycling scheme was one of the least-trumpeted aspects of their business. Many iPhone users remain completely ignorant of its existence. It works like this:

  • An Apple customer goes to the Apple Store and asks to trade in their older phone for a new, on-contract model.
  • The Apple Store rep keys in the customer’s existing iPhone details using their EasyPay device (those neat mobile touch screen gizmos you see reps clutching).
  • Based on the information entered, a value for the old iPhone is given to the customer. Metrics include display quality, button quality, overall hardware damage, liquid damage and functionality.
  • The Apple Store rep lets the customer know they cannot get their original phone back, and they should back up any info they need.
  • The customer gets a new iPhone and a gift card with the agreed-upon value pre-loaded to go towards the new device.
  • The old phone is placed in a plastic bag, and the old SIM card is given to the customer while the employee sets up the new iPhone.

According to Apple, recycled iPhones are only re-sold in the United States, although they’ve not ruled out expanding the program to international markets. Despite launching the scheme to little fanfare, the tech giant did assert its commitment at the time, stating:

July 17, 2014

Mobile to Surpass Print Advertising in the UK

Depositphotos_23995033_xs
 

According to a forecast by eMarketer, mobile advertising spending will soon overtake traditional print ads. The report predicts mobile spending to grow by a staggering 96% this year, hitting £2.02bn. That’s still a shade behind the forecast print spend of £2.06bn, but the report anticipates mobile ad spend will be worth £4.5bn in 2016. The UK’s total digital advertising market is forecast to be worth £7.25bn by the end of this year, growing to £8.64bn by 2016.

This rapid growth reflects the widespread adoption of secondary mobile devices used in conjunction with smartphones. By 2018, 50% of Brits are expected to own an iPad, Kindle or other tablet.

The eMarketer report states: 

“Continued robust growth in the mobile channel is driving the bulk of [overall] digital ad growth in the UK. The dramatic growth of mobile and video ad expenditures will boost digital ad spending throughout the forecast period.”

This “mobile mushroom” is showing no signs of letting up. The numbers are truly dramatic: compare the £7.25bn valuation put on the market today with the £83m from four years ago and you get an idea of just how seismic this shift is. Mobile advertising will account for nearly 30% of all digital ad spending in 2014, according to the report.

So what’s prompted such an explosion in mobile marketing campaign spending? Most analysts agree that, in the UK at least, a strong economy, with the pound ringfenced from the worst effects of the Eurozone crisis, has instilled confidence in consumers. Plus, the efficacy of mobile marketing tactics are easy to track compared with traditional channels, causing advertisers to turn away from print (the report also predicts that the newspaper and magazine market will lose £276m in ad spend between 2014 and 2018).

A similar story is playing out on this side of the pond, with mobile spending accounting for 22.5% of all digital ad investments in 2013. A study conducted last year – also by eMarketer – indicated worldwide growth of mobile web ad spending had exceeded 100% by the year’s end, with mobile accounting for 15.2% of digital ad dollars spent globally.

The implications for your mobile marketing strategy are clear. Firstly, track the results of your print and mobile marketing campaign. Secondly, compare and contrast the success rates of your digital campaign and your traditional print campaign. If recent analysis is correct, you’ll find more and more consumers are turning to mobile to browse commercial prospects. Once that happens, you can adjust your budget accordingly, and start reaping the benefits of mobile.

July 08, 2014

Six of the Best: World Cup Apps

Depositphotos_41493421_xs

Another World Cup, another rush from mobile marketing strategists and app developers to come up with ways of capitalizing on an event that has the attention of millions around the globe.

With multiple matches each day (at least during the group stages) and live screenings beholden to every different time zone, it’s not always convenient – even for the most ardent fan – to keep track of all the action. On the Pacific Coast, for instance, games kick off between 9am and 3pm, when most people are at work.

Thankfully, there are loads of clever apps on the market to help you stay abreast of all the action. And unlike 2010, this year’s tournament has arrived at a time when smartphones are most definitely the default mobile device for Americans, so almost everyone can benefit. Let’s take a look at the very best World Cup apps out there…

1) ESPN FC Soccer & World Cup

This free app takes an exhaustive, comprehensive approach to football stats from around the world, but what we’re really interested in is the World Cup tab where users can find out all the latest match news and scores. It includes video content so you can key moments and catch up on goals. Customizable, well designed, and easy to use, the ESPN offering is a stellar one.

2) World Cup 2014 Brazil

Available for free with Google Play, this app is as utilitarian as its title. Stats-focused, with full competition details and data customization, this neat green and yellow app is a beautiful, Brazilian-themed tool that will ensure you won’t miss a thing.

3) 2014 Table

Another Android offering with a straightforward name, this takes a pared down approach, giving subscribers only the essential information they need. Great for bloggers and journalists who want to cut to the chase and find the latest scores and tables, 2014 table auto updates as each new development occurs.

4) LiveSoccer World Football Cup

Track live matches from soccer leagues around the world, or just use it for the duration of the biggest sporting event on earth. Customizable push notifications will keep you informed of all the latest goings on, and a rich user interface doesn’t interfere with a high degree of user friendly slickness. 

5) Squawka

Mobile marketing campaign managers have aimed this little number squarely at the stats-obsessed football fan who wants easy access to the cold hard facts. Player information is cross-compared, allowing subscribers to play the ultimate living room manager by supplying detailed information on everything from goals and substitutions, to fouls and assists. Every tackle and pass is logged. This one’s for the completist.

6) BBC Sport

Available free for both Android and iPhone, the BBC app is an essential download for any World Cup devotees. It combines live text commentary for each game with push alerts every time a goal is scored. There’s also a way to stream regular Radio 5 World Cup bulletins. Along with the iPlayer, British football fans get everything they could need to see them through to the final.

June 30, 2014

How SMS is Revolutionizing Emerging Economies

Depositphotos_13437574_xs

Since 2007, individual farmers in developing countries are estimated to have made up to $4000 in additional profits and saved twice as much – and it’s all thanks to SMS messaging.

First trialed in India, and now being rolled out in other emerging economies, Reuters Market Light (RML) has had a truly revolutionary impact on the lives of rural workers since being introduced. This noble scheme was designed to level the playing field for remote farmers operating in a globalized marketplace. The service acts as a watchdog-cum-information-hub for agricultural commerce, issuing crucial information to people who may not have internet access.

It’s a far cry from the sophisticated mobile marketing tactics employed in the western world, but RML has demonstrated just how powerful SMS messaging can be in the absence of smartphones and web connectivity. Thus far, millions of farmers all over the world have received vital updates throughout the season, with information tailored to the specific needs of an individual’s profile. Information like regional and global market rates for crops; local weather data and disaster alerts; advice on increasing productivity and reducing risk, and other information that could have an impact on operational costs.

The scheme is intended to safeguard vulnerable workers against exploitative middlemen who seek to undercut them. There’s no shortage of compelling testimony to the efficacy of the work being done by RML. One story tells of a grape farmer who began exporting produce to Russia after learning of the country’s higher prices. It’s estimated that a staggering 1.2 million farmers in India are using the program to improve their chances.

RML offers a moving demonstration of how the humble mobile phone can help some of the world’s poorest people without the bells and whistles of the smartphones which proliferate among the world’s richest. SMS messaging, it seems, is powerful enough to raise living standards and brings some semblance of equality to a globalized economy. Kenya has used SMS messaging payment programs to reduce robbery statistics, with an amazing 25% of the country’s GDP now flowing through the M-Pesa system.

Studies indicate that introducing ten cell phones per one hundred people in the developing world can boost economic growth by 1%. RML, M-Pesa, and others are truly improving the lot of some of the hardest-hit regions on earth, giving citizens cheaper services, better access to crucial economic data, and ultimately creating greater expectations about acceptable living standards.

 

June 20, 2014

iPhone Users Will Soon be Able to Leave Group Text Message Chats

Depositphotos_12669045_xs

When Apple unveiled its new iOS 8 mobile operating system earlier this month, iPhone users everywhere expressed unprecedented delight with the upgrades. Some of the changes soon coming to the iPhone and iPad alike include features like longer-lasting batteries as well as an improved system for sharing photos. Users will also be able to access home automation apps and services allowing the iPhone to be used as a remote control for connected home devices such as certain types of lighting systems. 

However, it's not the Jetsons-era technology that appears to have gotten iOS 8 users the most excited. The new iPhone feature that has everyone cheering is the one that will now allow iPhone users to exit group text message chats for the very first time ever. The big news was announced at the Worldwide Developers Conference that took place June 2 through 6 in San Francisco.

iPhone Group Message Chats: Past v. Future

Until now, iPhone users who felt tortured by non-consensual group text messages had very few coping strategies available to them. They could simply throw their hands up and cooperate, or they could try to ignore their inboxes and those annoying message alerts. Alternatively, users could lie and say they had switched to an Android device that would not read the group text message chats.

Now, however, thanks to the system updates, users will soon be able to choose to either mute the group text message notifications (and read the text message chats later) or simply exit the group text message chat altogether with just the click of a button.

Ability to Exit iPhone Group Message Chats Dubbed 'Miracle'

Twitter absolutely exploded with the sound of rejoicing when news of the updated group text function went public. “We're free! WE'RE ALL FINALLY FREE!” one Liverpool man Tweeted. “Looks like the big man has been answering my prayers,” a Georgia man wrote.

By “big man,” of course, Darnell Augustin meant neither Steve Jobs nor those individual humans responsible for developing the updated technology – nor even Apple as a whole nor any other mortal being. 

The Twitter user was not alone in responding to the news by thanking a higher power, either. In response to the big news, one woman Tweeted: “GOD IS REAL.” Other religious invocations in response to the new feature included, “praise the lord,” “our prayers have been answered,” and “praise his holy name!”

Unfortunately, users will have to ride this newly-discovered wave of happiness all throughout the summer months, as the update is not scheduled to be released until the fall. It seems that we mortals must endure our earthly tribulations just a little bit longer before the heavenly rewards of iOS 8 will all be ours.

May 30, 2014

FT Reaches Out to Young People via Mobile Marketing

Depositphotos_9940984_xs
 

Britain’s premier business and economics broadsheet, the Financial Times (FT), last month launched a digital ad campaign aimed at the next generation of business professionals.

Digital posters are dotted around London train, tube and bus stations, imploring the public to find their ‘personalized Financial Times at FT.com.’ The mobile marketing assault includes video ads optimized for smartphones, while the usual social media suspects spread the word online.

Toni Ellwood, the FT’s boss of acquisition marketing, gave a statement at the unveiling of the campaign:

“Since the launch of our digital media acquisition campaign last year, we have seen that 40 per cent of new readers… were in the 24-34 age group – one we hadn’t specifically targeted previously.”

It’s an interesting development for the paper, which hasn’t always been so keen on the sort of mobile marketing tactics now used by most big businesses. Less than two months before the launch of the digital ad campaign, the FT’s chief technical officer John O’Donovan warned against obsessing over specific platforms, singling out mobile-optimized and responsive sites as examples of myopic tendencies among marketers.

And yet, the site was an early, aggressive adopter of certain online and mobile marketing practices that are now de rigeur among all sorts of enterprise. In 2007, FT.com became the first publisher to use a metered paywall and launch an HTML-5-based browsing experience. According to Donovan, the FT generates more revenue from content descriptions than it does from advertising - a pretty unequivocal endorsement as far as proponents of paid content are concerned.

Back then, Donovan described the FT as ‘pushing boundaries’ in the way it disseminated content through a diverse range of channels. His success cannot be ignored – but neither can the overwhelming power of mobile marketing which, frankly, is more effective than other strategies. After all, smartphone usage keeps growing year on year, and more than 90% of all text messages are opened and read within minutes of being received.

At the very least, Donovan would surely concede the point made by his colleague Ellwood, that nearly ‘half of FT.com traffic now comes from mobile devices.’ Their growing mobile audience appears to confirm the very thing Donovan denies: that a mobile marketing campaign should take precedence over other channels without excluding them altogether. 

May 27, 2014

Brazilian Teen Sets Text Messaging Speed Record

Depositphotos_8537930_xs

A 16-year-old Brazilian, Marcel Fernandes Filho, has just set the Guinness World Record for the fastest texting with a touchscreen smartphone. He won this “honor” on April 25, 2014 in New York City. 

The touchscreen-keyboard startup Fleksy sponsored the teen's trip to New York. It was on Fernandes' Fleksy, which he has been using since 2012, that he broke the record with his texting prowess.

Record-Determining Text Message a Real Challenge

As NBC News has put it, the world record-setting text “was no 'hi how r u' message, either.” Rather, Guinness required contestants to boldly text what no smartphone user has probably ever texted before: "The razor-toothed piranhas of the genera Serrasalmus and Pygocentrus are the most ferocious freshwater fish in the world. In reality they seldom attack a human." Whew! That sentence is 25 words long.

Those who turn their noses up at the art of texting should note that Fernandes' capitalization and spelling were perfect, as Guinness actually required them to be. The teen typed out that bear of a sentence in just 18.19 seconds, a mere quarter of a second faster than a 15-year old's January record, which was set at Microsoft's offices using one of its own smartphones.

Fernandes says he's been a longtime fan of Guinness World Records and has searched out obscure world record facts online ever since he was a child.

World Record-Setting Teen Studious, Not Addicted to Texting

The teen has also tried to set another “record” straight, explaining that he doesn't spend all day on his phone, regardless of stereotypes about “young people today.” In fact, as a physics student at southern Brazil's Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Fernandes says he's much too busy studying to get addicted to texting.

How did Fernandes find the time to become so good at texting, then? The young man confesses that back in 2009 he got so frustrated with how slow his laptop was that he took a hammer to it and smashed it.  He immediately realized he had no money to buy a new computer and was forced to use his iPhone 3G for everything from that point forward. As a result, he also had no choice but to become great at mobile phone typing. Little did he know that he'd someday be crowned the world champion.

Texting Champ's Story a Sign of the Times?

Predictably, the texting championship has spurred online debate about whether text messaging has eroded every old fashioned value imaginable, from good penmanship to the art of the phone conversation. Some commenters on CNN's website have expressed dismay over the teen's admission to having lost his temper with his computer, implying that the behavior is an example of what happens to an impatient, technology-addicted generation – regardless of Fernandes's claims to the contrary. Others have pointed out, however, that Fernandes was merely thirteen years old when it happened; and to look at this story in a positive light, he is clearly a resourceful young man.

Besides, other comments have said, technology is always changing, and that's a sign of progress. After all, if Fernandes had been the world champion of, say, stenography, would people be shaking their heads and mumbling about “kids these days?” As one commenter said to another, “How in the world is this bad? Is the future also lost because of the people who can type 130 WPM on a keyboard? The future isn't lost, you are.”

May 26, 2014

The Skinny on 911 Texting

Depositphotos_25591157_xs
 

Since May 15, the four major U.S. wireless carriers have been voluntarily offering text-to-911 capability as an alternative to placing voice calls to the emergency service. However, the fact that carriers have made the service available does not necessarily mean that 911 text messages will get through to dispatchers in all areas of the country.

There are several important things the public needs to know about how the new text-to-911 system works, as well as where it works and when it should and should not be used:

Which Wireless Carriers Support Text-to-911?

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T support text-to-911 in areas where dispatchers are equipped to receive such messages. These four companies represent the largest wireless carriers in the United States.

How does Text-to-911 Work?

Those needing to use the text-to-911 feature should type 911 into the number field. In the body of the text, they must state what and where the emergency is before hitting “send.”

The National Emergency Number Association has explained that call centers equipped to receive these emergency messages will be able to field the texts in a number of ways. For instance, centers that have not yet upgraded to the latest 911 technology will be able to start by receiving text messages via the TTY service previously reserved only for the hearing impaired. Those centers that can upgrade their systems, on the other hand, will be able to field the text messages through a browser-based technology that connects a secure virtual network to the text provider.

The public needs to be aware that the 911 dispatchers that are set up to receive texts cannot unfortunately accept photos or video at this time.

Where Does Text-to-911 Work? Where Does it Not Work?

It's crucial for the public to know that text-to-911 has not yet been implemented in every community. While the next six months will likely see many more communities adopting the technology, it could easily take several more years before implementation is widespread.

According to the FCC, people who try texting a message to 911 via Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, or AT&T in an area where it is not yet supported should receive a "bounce back" text informing them that their message could not be sent.

Circumventing Potential Problems

Like all text messages, texts to 911 are, unfortunately, subject to possible delays. In addition, since mobile phones are not associated with specific, fixed locations, it's crucial that texters remember to report what the location of the emergency is so that responders may promptly find those needing help. Overall, while text-to-911 could save lives in situations where placing a voice call is dangerous or even impossible, it is being stressed that when contacting 911, people's first choice should always be to call, with texting as an option only when calling is not possible or safe.