I posted a question about texting on this week’s Google Group and it really got me thinking: texting has evolved so much over the past few years in our country, but it’s still sub par compared to other places around the world. Why is this? Rheingold‘s book is a little outdated when it comes to texting since it was printed in 2002, but at the time the reason was that you couldn’t text with consumers of other cell phones providers (Verizon could only text with Verizon, Sprint with Sprint, and so on).

But I’m not just talking about the sheer numbers of texts we use every month. Sure, texting has increased in the US and is almost matching Europe, but other countries have taken it to a whole new level. Rheingold opens up Smart Mobs by discussing the power of texting in Japan. Young people gather at places because of widespread text messaging. This trend has hit other parts of the globe, too. Protests in Chile and unrest in France have both been attributed to the influx of texting habits in those countries. Asia leads the international pack in terms of texting, with Europe following behind. The US has been catching up, but not quite to the extent that the rest of the world is dominating.

Rheingold’s explanation doesn’t hold up for today–now we’re able to text all of the phone service provider networks, but we’re not surpassing countries. We don’t have subway meet up initiatives like in Tokyo. There seems to be a lack of urgency with texting in the US.

I think the reason for this is that, in Europe for example, people have been reliant on texting as their main way of communicating. Everybody has cell phones, but these phones come with cards that have to be charged when the $20 or whatever runs out. Calling other cell phones is expensive and the price is docked from the money that you put on the card. Texting is the cheapest option.

And what do we have in the US? Well, now we have unlimited IN texting so that it’s literally free to text with anyone in your network–and these usually come with texting bundles with an additional 50o or 1500 free texts. And who doesn’t know or love this commercial with the old grandma saying “IDK, my BFF Rose?”

But even with all of our free messaging, however, we are still falling behind. True–video and picture messaging has gone up, but why hasn’t texting in the US soared given all of the seemingly high advantages? As the younger generation gets older, it has become their norm–but not as much for those just a few years older. As for Europe and Asia, seemingly everyone is using texting to communicate.

We haven’t become dependent on it because we haven’t needed it. While other countries were using texting to communicate, we had Free Nights and Weekends on our cell phone. Now it’s the norm for almost every member of a family to have their own computer and use it for AIM, G chat, and other messenger services. Blackberries are buzzing at every metro and Starbucks around the district. With this overload of utilities at Americans’ disposal, there hasn’t been a dire need for texting. Sure, it’s a nice thing to have and companies are capitalizing on giving it to their consumers for free, but now it’s more of an added perk than anything else.

Advertisements