As anyone who still has a job is probably aware of by now, companies are trying to minimize the costs of doing business during these lean times. I got an e-mail from management at my job last week outlining a number of cost-cutting initiatives that have recently been put into effect. The one that caught my eye was an admonishment for employees with company-provided mobile phones (a club that I am not a member of) to stop texting so much. I've always wondered why texting is so expensive. After all, a single text message is at most a couple hundred bytes worth of data. A voice call is at least thousands of bytes per second. Based on the five minutes of research I just did, it appears that it's because texting is such a cash cow for wireless carriers. By charging ridiculously high rates for text messages, carriers basically force anyone who wants to use text messaging on regular basis to buy an unlimited plan, guaranteeing them an extra $5-10/month per customer over the life of their contract. Carriers can charge whatever the market will bear, of course, but any business that is built on constantly ripping off its customers is setting itself up for fall when someone comes in and challenges the status quo. At the very least, once Internet-connected mobile devices achieve critical mass, text messaging is going to go the way of the CB radio unless the pricing model is rationalized.
I've been sitting on this post for a couple of days and wouldn't you know it - Google has gone ahead and added SMS text messaging to Gmail. I don't this is going to put an end to extortionate text messaging rates, but I'm still holding out hope that Google/Android is going to finally force some sense into the US cellular phone market.