Blogger Enters 1995, Buys Cell Phone

So I finally broke down and got a cell phone. After weighing my options for ten years I found a plan that makes sense :-). Since I can’t use a phone at work, and I don’t often get calls requesting my assistance with open heart surgery, it was hard for me to justify a lengthy contract. I was almost ready to sign a 2-year Sprint contract when a friend of mine suggested that I consider a prepaid plan.

Virgin Mobile it is

For those of you even less familiar than I was, a prepaid phone requires no contract – you buy a phone, then pay into an account from which your usage is deducted. The terms surrounding pricing and expiry of minutes vary with each provider. I checked out the reviews on, and concluded that Virgin Mobile had sufficently favorable reviews and a decent pricing structure — by default 18¢ per minute, 5¢ per text. If you pay $6.99/month, the voice price goes down to 10¢ per minute. This is not cost-effective for a heavy user, but it’s much cheaper for those of us who only use a few hours a month. Virgin Mobile also allows you keep everything you put into your account as long as you contribute $20 every 90 days.

I proceded to check out the web site, which is clearly geared towards the Generation Z set, and found a decent phone. I headed to Best Buy and found that the retail packages, which start at $20, continue the “I can’t believe it’s not a megacorporation, dude!” motif. The selection is decent enough, although it doesn’t compete with the high-end phones subsidised by contracts. It only took a few minutes to activate, a few hours to charge the phone, and voila — this blogger now wielded circa ’95 connectivity!

Interactive Marketing

An interesting side-note – in the same vein as much of the rest of the prepaid marketing, Virgin Mobile’s Sugar Mama program allows you to earn free minutes. Just watch ads online and answer questions (ADTIME), take text surveys (TEXTTIME), or complete questionnaires (QTIME). I gave it a try for kicks and was treated to a Navy ad and a trailer for The Messengers for an easy free two minutes. I think I’ll stick with my day job… Digital50 has a more serious analysis of this service:

“What really attracted us to the Sugar Mama program is that it is truly a pull vs. a push tactic,” explained Stacy Doren, director, media and online, Levi Strauss Signature(R). “The audience is electing to receive the message and interact with the Levi Strauss Signature(R) brand in order to receive the bonus air time. It provides a new and innovative way to reach our consumers and provides us with the assurance that our message is being heard.”

Stupid TXT Tricks

I happened upon Google’s SMS service. Send a query to “GOOGLE” (466453) for weather (“w 90210”), movie times (“m 90210”), a dictionary (“d geek”), and more. You can give it a try using Google’s demo. Google also offers a web form and Firefox extension from which to send text mesasges to numerous networks.

It was also news to this newbie that mobile users can seamlessly send text messages to e-mail addresses. This is a compelling reason to send text via e-mail rather than web form when texting from a computer, so the recipient can respond. It’s easy enough to find the correct e-mail address for the big carriers or the obscure carriers.

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2 Responses to “Blogger Enters 1995, Buys Cell Phone”

  1. JonnyRo says:

    For a while there we were using a python based sms gateway that simply mailed the big carrier’s SMS gateways to send reminders about meetings and such.

  2. edu says:


    Blogger Enters 1995, Buys Cell Phone « Nathan's Blog

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