Published on January 30th, 2012 | by Bilal Sulehri21
[Review] SMSALL – Discover The Real Power Of Group Messaging
When the term “group messaging” is used, the image which flashes in my mind is the time when we had devices which were nothing else than phones, when we used to make groups in lots of 10, as this was the limit per group in most of the 3xxx Nokia phones. Then came the 40 Series with the luxury of making larger groups and this perfectly coincided with a significant plunge in SMS prices. Then we got smart phones with endless possibilities and the cost of text messaging became negligible, here we forgot the original idea behind group messaging i-e. engaging with a lot of friends together, instead we resorted to forwarded messages and lame jokes.
Then came Chopaal, a brain child of Dr. Umar Saif. Chopaal aimed to change everything we did wrong about group messaging and guided us towards interactive group based discussions again. Another service which I used in those days was Mobi2weet; it was as popular as Chopaal as it brought the power of twitter without any additional charges. Both services faded away without giving their users any intimation of why they were being discontinued and whether these will be reincarnated again.
It is worth mentioning here that the idea was conceived during the aftermath of the deadly earthquake in Kashmir. Means of communication were insufficient and resources scarce, hence there was an imposing need to coordinate relief activities to make them effective. Dr. Saif created a rescue group and used it to broadcast messages to all the rescue workers in his area, thus his subscribers were able to receive messages and provide supplies on the basis of information provided by others.
This was to be the founding stone, and a pretty strong one of Chopaal, which has been rebranded and re-launched with the name and style of SMSALL. With a little less than half a million groups and over 4 million users, the service has already transmitted above 4 billion text messages till date and boasts a daily traffic of around 15 million text messages.
So let’s see what can be done with SMSALL, you can:
- Create profile
- Make your profile private/ public
- Create group
- Subscribe to a group
- Start a private group
- Activate/ Deactivate a group
- Send texts
- Give feedback
To do any of the above, the user should be armed with a mobile phone which is capable of sending and receiving text messages and credit if he/ she intends to send a text to the group and be heard. The services offered by SMSALL mean that it can be used in ways only limited by a user’s imagination.
- We can use it to keep in touch with our dear friends of the yesteryear;
- To re-live the quality time spent together by indulging in group discussions so that every one of the group can simultaneously see what others have to say;
- The service can be used to organize meetings, walks, dinners, seminars and other events;
- To share news, gossips and jokes with our near and dear ones;
- To subscribe to our favorite political party’s official group and show our support and solidarity (PTI & PML-N are already using SMSALL)
- To form interest-groups and discuss issues related with specific topics;
In addition to above we can use SMSALL in anything else which requires one-to-many or private conversations.
How SMSALL group messaging is different?
It engages you in ‘conference messaging’. Just like ‘reply-all’ feature of the email, a group message on SMSALL is sent to all group members with responses broadcast to the whole group as well. A very convenient way to keep in touch with small groups (of up to 20 people) with less than 140 characters on projects and daily tasks!
SMSALL is not only confined to individual users, corporate users are finding it extremely useful as it is more reliable than in-house GSM Modem based solutions being used by the corporate sector to broadcast bulk text messages. According to Mr. Idrees, the enthusiastic COO of SMSALL,
“We are the only player in the market who offers a legitimate and cost effective solution to corporate sector for reaching out to their customers without spending too much. Our solution can help any organization to build their new customer base and to develop a strong relationship with existing ones through interactive communication by forming loyalty groups”
The service can be used by:
- Retailers: To keep their customers posted about price changes
- Businessmen: To notify customers about unforeseeable closures, new offers and discounts
- Restaurants: To broadcast latest deals, take orders and communicate with permanent customers
- Political parties: To keep their followers engaged and informed
- Interest groups: To cultivate a habit of healthy discussions on topics of interest
- Educational institutions:
- To inform students about schedules, classes, seminars & results etc.
- To deliver periodic reports to parents & guardians
- Media & agencies: to interact with general public, arrange quizzes, conduct polls etc.
According to a document provided by the COO, SMSALL is providing following services to corporate customers:
- SMS API
- Customer Loyalty groups for targeted engagement
- SMS CRM solutions
- Contextual SMS advertising
- SMS surveys and event voting
- Facebook and Twitter integration
- Group messaging
Impressive clientele amassed by SMSALL includes but is not limited to:
- Major Political Parties
- Pakistan Tehreeq-e-Insaaf (PTI)
- Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N)
- Labor Party Pakistan
- TV channels
- GEO TV
- Organizations and Individuals
- Metro Cash and Carry Pakistan
- Oxford University Press
- British Council
- Ali Moeen Nawazish
- Tens of others, including schools, universities, call centers, ad agencies and local brands
Waqas Farooq, the CTO of SmsAll while explaining the challenges faced by the company told Telecompk:
“We worked days and nights and have created a powerful technology that can process a billion SMS a day. We are only constrained by the capacities allocated to us by telecom operators. Our vision is to register a new meaning of SMS communication in everyone’s mind.”
The service whose foundation was laid for the sole purpose of helping the needy can in no way be short of being impressive. However there are still a few doubts in my mind as to whether it really means something for a person like me who has the facility of internet whether in home, office or on the go?
The answer is quite simple; the service may not appeal to me and other “power users” as we are always connected to the internet and have the luxury of more than one ways of communication with our loved ones. But there are a lot of others who live in a remote part of our country where the only means of communication is a mobile phone, and that too a black-and-white one, these people need a platform to communicate and socialize with those who they cannot reach with any other means of communication.
However, there are still areas in which I think SMSALL needs to improve itself if it really wants to remain the leader in the market. For instance, the website doesn’t offer all the features available via SMS. New users find it complicated as the service foes not interactively guide the user about all features when a user is signed up. So far, SMSALL has grown virally but to increase its growth, they must improve their web presence and increase capacities to handle occasional delays that users have to face. I was told by the COO that website revamp is under process and soon users will be able to use SMSALL on the internet as well.
So let’s sum it up with a few pros and cons
- Same short code on all operators
- Same tariff for all networks
- A lot of options to make and manage groups
- Attractive for the corporate sector
- Expensive for package users
- Unimpressive website
- Complicated SMS interface
It may still have some shortcomings, but I have taken the liberty of creating a group on SMSALL where TelecomPk followers will be able to follow all the latest news, previews, reviews and much more pertaining to the tech and telecom industry. Joining the group is simple, type:
Join TelecomPk and send it to 8002 (charges of Rs 1.2+ tax will apply)