Mar 12, 2010

SMS Long Code Finally Arrive

So finally IPL starts its third edition on a big note. IPL, in my opinion is not so much about cricket as much it is about the advertisement revolution that it has brought to this country. Zoo-Zoo's were launched in the last season of IPL, and the advertising fraternity does realize that it has been THE most talked about advertisement in a long time. They made an entry again today and people were again fascinated by them.

But it was another advertisement that grabbed my attention. Abhishekh Bachchan, asking people to play a contest on their mobile phone by sending a sms to a regular 10 digit number. It can easily pass of as a regular advertisement asking people to vote over SMS. But NO it is not normal at all. Here's why.

At the turn of this century, Realty shows made a huge impact on the Television industry and how viewers interact with it. Every realty show would ask their viewers to vote by sending a SMS to a short code. These short codes were extra VAS numbers (regular short code would cost Rs 3 and this one would cost Rs 6). Viewers did not realize but both the television shows and the mobile operators made loads of money when millions of viewers started sending their sms.

But now after almost 10 years, in my opinion number of people sending sms to a short code has started to decline. You will want to participate in a reality show and make your star a winner. But after some time the novelty of method dies down and your rising phone bill start to make you choosy about when to sms.

And so Abhishekh Bachchan asking you to vote by sending SMS to a long code, marks a huge shift in the way producers view this consumer market. They are ready to forgo the money they were making on the shortcode and really focus on consumers interacting with them over sms.

This option has been there for a long time. But people were just not aware that the kind of interaction that they do over a short code, by paying premium cost could be done on a regular 10 digit mobile number. This will now change. You will start to see more and more long codes coming in advertisement and TV contests now. And I am really excited to see this change coming in the market.

Way to go AB.

Mar 6, 2010

xAuth for SmsTweets

SmsTweet as you know is a fun application that I created to let me update my twitter status using sms. It gives me a great flexibility to update my twitter status on the go. Users either register on the website using OAuth or I would store their username and password HTTP digest if they registered using their mobile phone only. Former was breeze but the later caused a little bit of problem. For people who registered using OAuth, Twitter displays the source as my application (SmsTweets), but who registered over mobile phone (with their username and password), it displayed the source as API. That caused a little problem for me to track people who were tweeting through my application.

Recently Twitter released xAuth using which applications can request user tokens by just providing their username and password. This has been a pending request for a long time mainly by desktop and mobile based twitter clients. For them access to the web may not be straight forward and it was difficult to get oauth access tokens.

But the access to xAuth is limited. You need to send an email to to enable your application for xAuth. Once they have enabled your application, you can pretty much follow their documentation to get it working. Documentation is far from clear right now, and it may take a lot of iterations and exchange of emails to twitter to get it to work for you. As was the case for me. But finally I got xAuth working for SMSTweets, and I have moved all my users who had provided their username and password over mobile phone to OAuth based authentication.

And yes, Now I can get rid of all the duck taping that I had done to get OAuth based and HTTP based authentication to work.