The comparisons between SMS and email have always been an issue of debate in all the technological forums around the world. These two equally powerful technologies- computers and mobile phones- are standing toe to toe.
They peacefully coexisted for quite a while and both these techniques of communications are still very much popular in their own respective niche markets. Each medium has its strengths that compensated for its drawbacks.
The comparison arrived with the convergence of these devices where computers started serving the function of calling and the mobile phones started working like computers. Then the competition between both mediums started.
I am not trying to compare emails to SMS because in lots of ways, they are incomparable. SMS is a short message that is a more informal method of staying in touch and yet it is more accessible in comparison to an email.
This is a genuine sentiment amongst all of us that an email is generally used by a certain class of people to communicate in a more dignified way. On the other hand the SMS is used in a very informal fashion by every phone owner.
Well one of the key reasons so many people are opting for SMS instead of email is because SMS is a much more instantaneous and connected technology.
If you send someone an email then there is the chance that they could not read it for days, they may be away from their computer and/or it could get stuck in cyber world somewhere.
Most of us have our phones on us all of the time and have them turned on while we are awake. A response to a text message is likely to happen much quicker.
And then there came the Mobile email. People have access to email in their fixed world, and they want to keep that access when they’re mobile. You need to only look around Kigali city to see the new ‘Blackberry class’.
But it still comes to the same scenario: it can only be afforded by a smaller echelon of society. Again the advantage SMS has over email whether on phone or fixed is its availability on pretty much every cell phone sold, high end or not.
And with SMS being inherently cheaper than mobile email, it may still represent a relevant and cost-effective means of communication for certain users.
However, the drawback of SMS is that you have a word limit and you are charged money for sending an SMS.
However, on the other hand, the e-mail has always been free of cost and is more economical and without any word limit. So, you could write as long as you can.
Some of the email companies are starting to fight back with mobile phones moving in on their markets allow clients to send emails from their phones, email companies are now offering the opportunity to convert email to SMS.
Basically this means that you can set out an email and then through the power of the internet send it to a person’s mobile phone through the power of SMS text messaging.
Ultimately we are all winners because although these two alternative technologies are competing against one another for our services, we are the ones who benefit from these companies battling it out for our services and whether you are using email to SMS or SMS to email the winner is communication.
Nyagapfizi Emmanuel is a Management Information Systems manager