I was presently surprised on how text messaging is more popular in India than any other place I am aware of. Most of the business and family communication which had been previously a telephone call has become a text message. This is a great leap into Mobile 2.0 in India. It is common to set business meetings over a text message. Coordinate with family about your whereabouts, get movie coupons and change ringtones on your cell phone over an SMS.
Interestingly, there are sites like smsgupshup.com that boasts 25M users. Looking for domestic help (very common) in India, check out babajob.com, a SMS based social networking site for household help. Imagine! hiring a cook, a driver and many other things over SMS.
Some interesting observations:
- SMS NOT text message: Most people are familiar with the word “SMS”, say text me and they know you are from “OUT of town”.
- OK to text: For most part when the phone rings in meetings, people hold the handset close to their mouth to have a conversation in a conference room but the most widely acceptable format to communicate in such a setting is TEXTING.
- Traffic makes it a necessity: Imagine! being stuck in a traffic jam in a big city like Mumbai and Delhi. You need help with directions, you will request a text message with landmarks to identify a location e.g “behind the videocon building, look for the PVR cinema on the right OR make a left Raheja towers”. Almost a small personal navigation system.
- Text for voting: India is big into “Indian Idol” and programs where the community needs to vote to pick a winner. This adds more fuel to the SMSing community who take this responsibility seriously to caste their vote.
I loved how many things I used to SMS for while in India. The most important fact is the cultural aspect – where giving your phone number is not a BIG deal. People are comfortable sharing this information and are more trusting in this regard than the western cultures where email is more popular. I enjoyed the personalization of SMSing…
—Contributed by Deepika Bajaj, President and Founder, Invincibelle, LLC and co-founder, ActiveGarage (the company behind 99tribes). Deepika is also the author of the book DiversityTweet: Embracing the growing diversity in our world and Pink and Grow Rich:11 Unreasonable Rules for Success You can follow Deepika on Twitter at invincibelle