As Twitter withdraws SMS, startups rush to fill the void

Assuming the founders of Twitter are listening, then they will have been be hearing about the outcry from users outside the US (just read these comments) after they completely cut off all outbound SMS services in the UK and chose not to replace them with premium rate SMS services – services which, surprise, surprise – millions of people in Europe already happily pay for.

But no matter. Twitter’s loss is the startups’ gain, and a number of them are hungrily eyeing up the potential premium-rate SMS market which Twitter has built and bank-rolled as a free service till now.

Just two of them to hit my inbox in the last 12 hours include Zygo Tweet and Tweet SMS.

The latter says “for a low price, tweetSMS can send you individual, hourly or daily updates from all of your friends!”. Though who these guys are is anyone’s guess, and they haven’t told me yet. But they say it will “be available worldwide across almost all carriers” and they “also plan to deploy an ad-based service for free updates.”

Zygo Tweet however are already known to TechCrunch as the guys behind UK-based Zygo Hubs, a mobile startup which could almost be likened to an SMS version of Twitter already.

They are asking people to register their interest – once they hit enough users it’s going to be worth their while to offer the service. I understand it will cost about 5p per message or less, down to 4p in large quantities. As other observers have said, it’s clear that for many people it is the DMs – the direct messages from Twitter on SMS which is the real ‘must have’ part of the service, so 5p is a small price to pay in that respect.

Meanwhile, I would not be surprised to find all sorts of people starting to offer SMS services based on Twitter’s API, but I would certainly be careful who you entrust with your Twitter name and password.