Matt Marshall at VentureBeat liked my post on SMS GupShup, and asked me to write a follow-up guest post for VB. That post appears on VentureBeat today. Leaving aside questions of technology and scaling, I ask why SMS GupShup is bigger and growing faster than Twitter. My hypothesis:
Microblogging is a nice-to-have in developed economies, like the US. It's a must-have in developing economies like India, China, and Egypt.
In essence, microblogging is semi-synchronous publish-subscribe messaging. It’s publish-subscribe because it decouples senders and their reader(s), who can choose which senders to follow at any point in time. It is semi-synchronous because readers can choose either to follow it synchronously (via various desktop tools, or their mobiles), or read it later. In the Western world, the penetration of PCs is almost universal, so we have other PC-dependent messaging options such as blogging (asynchronous publish-subscribe); email (asynchronous point-to-point); instant messaging (synchronous point-to-point). Yes, none of them offers quite what Twitter does, but the majority of people in the majority of situations can make do with the conventional options.
Contrast this with the situation in third-world nations: PC penetration is incredibly low, while mobile penetration is incredibly high. For example, India has about 40 million PCs but 10 times as many cell phones. This makes short text messages sent via SMS the main written communication mechanism. Blogging, email, and IM are just not options, so microblogging becomes the main form of publishing, communication, and self-expression.
You can read the full post on VentureBeat.