TxtMob and Putting the Mobile Messaging Pieces Together


So I got an update from TxtMob today - they're going to be organizing SmartMob-style protests in New York against the RNC which is very cool (and more useful than their similar efforts agains the DNC). In case you haven't heard of it, here's a summary from their front page:

TXTMob is a free service that lets you quickly and easily share txt messages with friends, comrades, and total strangers. The format is similar to an email b-board system. You can sign up to send and receive messages from various groups, which are organized around a range of different topics.

Now, I have to say as the owner of iMobs.com, they have a great domain name and nice and simple, yet really useful service as well. In the email I got today, TxtMob announced the addition of private groups, and more importantly, the ability to send messages to groups from your mobile phone - you could only send messages via the web interface before. But guess how they expect their users to send those messages? Yep, you guessed it, to an email address: [GROUP_NAME]@txtmob.com.


That's the second time I've seen a service use this way of getting messages. It assumes that the people using the service have a mobile phone with email, or most likely, MMS capabilities. This is definitely a cheap way of getting this done, as a dedicated phone number costs serious cash (a basic monthly fee, plus per-message charges). But think about this, if you combine this assumption with the mobile email addresses available to American subscribers, you can provide round trip mobile messaging for free. No SMS aggregator middleman needed.

I wouldn't suggest this for a professional service, but for a neat hack? Sure! In fact, you could duplicate the TxtMob service right now by just entering in your mobile phone email address into a dedicated YahooGroups account. And hey, adding some open groups dedicated to various cities and you've got Dodgeball. Yeah, it's not as refined as "real" SMSes, etc. but I'm thinking 80-20 here... ;-)

And I thought email was dead. Think about the possibilities for mobile hacking, it's just great. I wonder which mailing list software is most easily installed with apt-get? I'm not sure why I didn't put all the pieces together before... but this should be fun to play with!


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