A good friend of mine — intelligent, savvy, always up on current events — recently sent her first text message.
I had to coach her on how exactly one sends an SMS (short message service), and I gave her a good bit of guff in the process. I suspect, though, that many of you reading this are in the same boat and have only recently discovered the joys and frustrations of instant messages arriving in your pocket.
You'll no doubt be annoyed to hear what I have to tell you: It's now all about group mobile messaging. Just when you'd unlocked the mysteries of sending one SMS to one person, now it's time to send that message to dozens, if not hundreds, of people. Here are a few of the products worth a second look.
Jyngle is a free mobile and Web messaging service that allows users to send text or voice messages to groups of any size via the Web or their mobile phones. Message recipients don't have to register, just confirm that they wish to join a specific Jyngle group when they first receive a message for that group.
The process is equally simple on the sender's end, with creation of groups, contacts and messages easily managed on the Jyngle site. The service is easy to use and works seamlessly. We registered, created a group, and sent a message in a matter of minutes.
The message customization options are impressive as well. Users can stipulate voice or text, record a message, upload a file or type text to be converted into speech and specify a later date and time for the message to be sent if they don't want it sent right away.
On the recipient's end, the phone rings and, upon pick up, the Jyngle service plays the message. It's all as intuitive and as simple as described — a nice surprise in this age of overpromising.
The idea behind Frengo, aimed mainly at 16- to 30-year-olds, is to allow friends to share content over mobile phones. Like Jyngle, it's group communication, but the messages are less about communicating and more about socializing.
The company's Buzz platform delivers social messaging, group games and interactive marketing to circles of friends via text and multimedia messaging. Registered users can join existing groups or start their own buzz group.
Frengo supports both free interaction and premium messaging in the form of contests and opinion polls, produced by Frengo, in which users earn points for prizes. Large brands can establish channels on the network and a number of large media companies have done so. These brands send read-only messages to users who have elected to receive their promotions.
Frengo is accessible via all major U.S. mobile carriers. The company does not charge for basic messaging, but users pay for point-earning premium services on a subscription basis, ranging from $3.99 to $9.99 monthly.
Whereas Jyngle and Frengo focus on individual users, Mozes is more suitable for companies and currently focuses on the music industry. Mozes allows anyone, but mostly bands, to communicate with their fans.
Any time fans join a band's "mob" (mobile contact list), they receive a text message, ringtone, wallpaper or other content from the band.
Both individual bands and record labels can use Mozes for promotions, and the service encourages its clients to integrate Web marketing with its mobile campaigns by adding a Mozes-customized widget to their Web sites. More than 1,000 bands have already signed up. The service is free to consumers.