I couldn’t tell you whether this will work or not, but I love it as an idea. SMS GupShup is one of the biggest mobile social networks in the world – it’s an Indian network that runs entirely on SMS, and has 26 million users. It has now announced AppShup, an application store for SMS apps. It’s an open developer platform, so that third party companies can create and distribute SMS-based applications through the network.
Who is GupShup?
It’s like a mailing group, highly modified to be an SMS based social network. It’s based on communities that can be formed around any topic. Once you’ve joined a community, your SMS to the group will be sent out to all members. Now, 26 million people subscribed to over 2 million communities adds up to a lot of texts (it claimes to generate 5% of all SMS in India). So GupShup has to limit the number of SMS any user can send in order to keep its costs reasonable. Advertisers, brands and businesses (including Facebook) have created their own GupShup communities, in order to communicate with Indian audiences – with over 100 advertiser “communities” existing at the moment.
By necessity these apps have to be quite simple – because the end user that AppShup is aimed at isn’t going to have an advanced phone. It certainly won’t be a device that can run anything more than the most basic apps. So what developers for AppShup are really doing here is creating extremely simple “client apps” that allow the phone owner to communicate with a server-hosted application by SMS.
There are 100 SMS apps already available, so I can give you some examples:
GupPic – this allows you to send and receive pics through GupShup via MMS
Tic Tac Toe – this extremely basic game allows you to send and receive moves via SMS
Auction – place bids on items. You can get a list of available lots by sending an SMS to the number, and bid on the lot you want by sending BID followed by the lot code
SMS GupShup CEO Beerud Sheth says that “text-messaging is by far the most popular communication platform in the world. AppShup unleashes the creativity of global developers and enables them to quickly and inexpensively put their applications in front of billions of mobile subscribers worldwide.”
What we think?
Like I said, I love this idea. It has a lot of great attributes:
1) Common user platform. Everyone knows how SMS works.
2) Common developer platform. By necessity, AppShup uses old, standard mobile technologies that a lot of developers are fluent with.
3) Operator agnostic. Every operator can send texts.
4) Existing audience. 26 million people in India will be seeing your apps.
But if SMS GupShup is worried about the volume of texts it sends, then this service really isn’t going to lighten that load. It has the potential to explode the load, actually.