If SMS is such a great application and easy for users to operate, why do we think it's not a worthwhile investment of time and resources in China or abroad for the vast majority of companies engaging in this niche of the industry? After all, it is the dominant revenue generator for the triumvirate portals in China. So why should it be sidelined?

SMS is really just a bridge technology; it's not even close to being a killer app. It is a great application, but has many limitations. The amount of characters in a message are limited, the client-side SMS abilities of most phones are limited, and the ability to garner good background "header" information (like from an email) is limited. The only thing not limited in the SMS world are the great number of companies all providing similar game, entertainment, and news services. The next-generation MMS, which allows for multimedia, is scarcely better. Though it can operate with email and supports gif and jpeg image files, in the end, it will too not be able to withstand the onslaught on the Desktop Web moving to the Wireless Web.

What do we mean? The ubiquity of Instant Messaging (IM), and the reliance people place on email is undisputedly large. And with the new Smart phones embedding many IM and email features in them, you can now take the Desktop Web with you wherever you go. Soon, SMS will be a minor feature on phones, to be supplanted by ICQ, MSN Messenger, Eudora Email, and Web Clipping. But you say SMS is important for apps like polling? The Wireless Web offers many more functions than a simple MMS or SMS voting booth. After going through the tech bubble of the 1990s, it's a shame to see investors are still shortsighted and still pumping money into so many paper-thin wireless ventures.

As a bridge technology, SMS offers decent revenue in the short-term to the largest operators in the industry. But very quickly we'll see that plain-old email and IM will knock the SMS upstart away. So where will the China portals get their money from then? Maybe paid wireless email services?


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