Mobile Messaging: SMS vs Push

A few months ago we had a conversation with two telecom industry analysts, Danny Briere and Pat Hurley, about the potential of push notifications on mobile devices and how they compare / contrast with SMS (text messages). Danny Briere wrote up the team’s analysis of IP-based push in today’s Connected Planet. It’s a must-read for anyone weighing the merits of each.

Obviously, we are biased, but we can’t help but agree with their final recommendation: “If Push is not part of your mid-term SMS plan, you should start having some meetings about it soon.”

From an end user’s point of view, they are often not that different, given that they appear on the home screen of their mobile device in a shaded box containing up to 140 characters. On an Android or Blackberry, they are more differentiated but not so much to be truly noticeable for an end user. For the sender, however, the differences between using SMS or push for mobile messaging are significant. For one, consider price: “SMS is up to $1500/month for a shortcode and somewhere in the pennies per message wholesale rate for delivery, while Push notifications through a third-party Push provider are thousandths of cents per message. That’s a several orders of magnitude expense reduction in communications expense alone for ISV/SaaS vendors and other SMS senders.”

But what we really stress to our mobile customers is the merits of push notifications to really drive users into actionable content. By triggering an alert that engages the end user and compels him or her to open the app, push has the upper hand over SMS. A user may view an SMS message, but there’s no way of knowing how — or if — this returns any investment to the business.