Two years ago, my daughter, Anna, sent me her first text message. She borrowed her older brother's mobile phone and composed this question, "Where R U." When the message arrived, I was happy to know that she was thinking about me. My initial thought was to reply, "@ wrk."

Before sending a response, however, I considered the real meaning of my daughter's question. I knew that she was not actually interested in my physical location. She did not care whether I was at my office, a client's office, or a restaurant. She really wanted to know when I would be home. She wanted to know when she would see me. She cared about timing, not location. I replied, "@ wrk, b home in 30."

As I meet with people in enterprises throughout the US, I often ask the same question, "Where R U?" My question, like my daughter's, is context-sensitive. Its broader meaning is "Where is your text message strategy?" Or, more pointedly, when will your organization begin using text messaging and other mobile-messaging services in your marketing, customer care, and collections processes?

Like my daughter, I am not asking about geography or political positioning; rather, I am asking about timing. And I have found that very few organizations in 2008 can answer this basic text-messaging question.

No longer do American consumers lag the rest of the world in text-message adoption. Text messaging has become the preferred communications channel for millions of people, and not just teenagers. For many people in America, text messaging is considered indispensable.

The Rise of Mobile Messaging

Some 80 percent of all Americans carry mobile phones. There are more mobile-only households than landline-only households.

The volume of text messages sent in America doubles each year. As of mid 2007, Americans sent over 1 billion text messages per day.

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Alan Berrey is VP, Market Development, Text & Mobile Messaging, SoundBite Communications ( He was the founder and CEO of Mobile Collect, which was acquired by SoundBite in February 2008. Reach him at