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By Guy Kewney  |  Posted 2004-12-01 Print this article Print

: The Texting Solution"> In most of the world, texting is used on a scale to which, it seems, many American phone users are still not accustomed. At least, thats the best excuse I can come up with for the Xplore smart phone, which doesnt use text tags. In any part of Europe, if you ring your mobile network to ask for a phone number, you have a choice. You can write it down with a pen, which nobody does. You can have the operator connect you, which will cost you about the same as a half-hours worth of conversation. Or, you can have the operator send you the number as an SMS (Short Message Service) text message.
All the user has to do is scroll down through the text message and click on the highlighted phone number, and the phone does the dialing. You pay for the text—and for the inquiry call, of course. But the chance of getting the wrong number is pretty close to zero.
Thats how Mobix does conference calls. It might take you five minutes to set up a conference call the old-fashioned way—first calling all the parties, then making sure theyre all on standby, and finally pulling them in one-by-one (only to discover that Jim got tired of waiting and took another call, and Matt accidentally hung up). But Mobix does it all in a text message. The call organizer scrolls through the contact list in his phone, picks out the people who are going to be on the call, and sends the same message to all of them: "You ring this number [text tag] at this time." Set the time for five minutes in the future. The network sends the messages and just before its time to get together, it sends another one with the number that says, "Dial now!" Everybody clicks on the number, and bingo! Youve got a conference call. (Of course, Brad and Guy have decided they dont want a beer, and Carol has been standing outside the stadium in the cold all evening wondering where you all are, but thats football.) A consensus is easily reached, and you all go home to watch a movie. Or you meet on Jims boat and go for an evening cruise…whatever. At least, thats how it should work. Unfortunately, it doesnt work on the Xplore. And its not just the Mobix 2buzz application that doesnt work—I couldnt get any phone-number text tag to work. I can just hear you guys Over There not gasping with astonishment. But to anybody working in Europe or most of Asia, a phone that doesnt automatically scan a text message for a phone number (or URL) and turn it into a hot link, is a little like a PC that doesnt run a browser. It is weird that it doesnt work. But whats stranger is that someone could design a phone in 2004 and not understand how important it is that it work. Read more from Guy Kewney on trends in mobile and wireless technology. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on mobile and wireless computing.


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