Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 4th May 2009 20:36 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless "Alone in a room in his home in Bonn, Germany, Friedhelm Hillebrand sat at his typewriter, tapping out random sentences and questions on a sheet of paper. As he went along, Hillebrand counted the number of letters, numbers, punctuation marks and spaces on the page. Each blurb ran on for a line or two and nearly always clocked in under 160 characters. That became Hillebrand's magic number - and set the standard for one of today's most popular forms of digital communication: text messaging."
Order by: Score:
Comment by ephracis
by ephracis on Mon 4th May 2009 21:32 UTC
ephracis
Member since:
2007-09-23

So it's because one guy hits an average on 160 chars when he types random sentences?

Nice. However, 160 is not MY average. That annoys me. Luckily my phone splits and merges text messages automagically so I don't have to get annoyed anymore.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by ephracis
by daedliusswartz on Mon 4th May 2009 21:35 UTC in reply to "Comment by ephracis"
daedliusswartz Member since:
2007-05-28

What annoys me about it is how they charge you for two messages when it's just one with this artificial limitation of 160 characters!

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Comment by ephracis
by zegenie on Mon 4th May 2009 21:42 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by ephracis"
zegenie Member since:
2005-12-31

Argue whatever you want - it *is* still two messages being sent.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Comment by ephracis
by wanderingk88 on Mon 4th May 2009 23:27 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by ephracis"
wanderingk88 Member since:
2008-06-26

It's still a major robbery. With the price of broadband internet nowadays, charging what they charge for sending a mere 160 bytes (plus, I dunno, another 100 bytes of headers?) is completely ridiculous.

Reply Score: 7

RE[3]: Comment by ephracis
by daedliusswartz on Tue 5th May 2009 00:29 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by ephracis"
daedliusswartz Member since:
2007-05-28

No it's not. It's one message, just split into two.

I don't buy the line that's all they could allow technically. What is this.. Windows 1.0 days? Sheesh.

The mobile even says "updating message" when there's several SMS coming in as one message, so they know full well it's a single message but charge for multiples.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by ephracis
by FunkyELF on Mon 4th May 2009 21:36 UTC in reply to "Comment by ephracis"
FunkyELF Member since:
2006-07-26

So it's because one guy hits an average on 160 chars when he types random sentences?

Nice. However, 160 is not MY average. That annoys me. Luckily my phone splits and merges text messages automagically so I don't have to get annoyed anymore.


It would seem that way, but then it goes on to say...

Initially, Hillebrand's team could fit only 128 characters into that space, but that didn't seem like nearly enough. With a little tweaking and a decision to cut down the set of possible letters, numbers and symbols that the system could represent, they squeezed out room for another 32 characters.


So it looks like 160 happened to be all they could fit anyway.

Reply Score: 4

Because...
by wannabe geek on Tue 5th May 2009 01:15 UTC
wannabe geek
Member since:
2006-09-27

... if they allowed you to type much more characters, or if they charged for a sms what it costs them as compared with a minute of conversation, no-one would use anything but sms most of the time.

Reply Score: 3

Comment by kaiwai
by kaiwai on Tue 5th May 2009 01:50 UTC
kaiwai
Member since:
2005-07-06

The funny part of this whole SMS situation is that sending an email from ones mobile phone is cheaper given the data rates Vodafone charges. $10 for 100MB for 3G mobile internet - imagine how many emails you could send for $10 versus the pricing plans that both big operates (Vodafone and Telecom NZ) charge.

Reply Score: 4

It's two lines on a terminal
by rklrkl on Tue 5th May 2009 06:16 UTC
rklrkl
Member since:
2005-07-06

I'm surprised no-one's mentioned the obvious (even in the original article) - 160 characters is 2 lines of a standard 80-character terminal (in the "olden" days, physical terminals like the VT100 would default to 80 characters, though they also had a 132-character mode).

It does seem an arbitrarily low limit to me (i.e. one not related to any technical reason) - whilst it's enough for a single sentence, it's not enough for a full paragraph. A better limit might have been 256 characters, which would both enough for a paragraph and also more "meaningful" in the computer world in the sense that it's a power of two.

Reply Score: 3

Service Charge
by xiaokj on Tue 5th May 2009 09:54 UTC
xiaokj
Member since:
2005-06-30

Think of it this way. When you buy water on the streets, it comes in bottles right? And you buy in bottles, no matter how just one bottle will not satisfy you.

This is unlike the case for households, where you get all the infrastructure paid for, then you may pay-as-you-use. And usually cheaper per unit too.

Same thing with filesystem blocks. You pay for disc space no matter how much or how little you use for each block allocated.

Complaining about how the "160-character limit is atrocious" is pointless because the phone operators have to do work to provide you with this service, and they must be paid.

However, as kaiwai noticed, having emails cheaper than SMS is the thing we should complain about. i.e. We should be complaining about how these companies are ripping us off!

Reply Score: 2

RE: Service Charge
by xiaokj on Tue 5th May 2009 10:28 UTC in reply to "Service Charge"
xiaokj Member since:
2005-06-30

Now, 20 Min is really short...

But on my topic, do you complain that tcp packets are limited to, say, 1024 bytes?

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Service Charge
by Feanor on Tue 5th May 2009 12:56 UTC in reply to "RE: Service Charge"
Feanor Member since:
2006-12-21

Now, 20 Min is really short...

But on my topic, do you complain that tcp packets are limited to, say, 1024 bytes?


Is my ISP charging me $0.10 per TCP Packet?

Reply Score: 2

Think before you sent
by spinnekopje on Tue 5th May 2009 16:33 UTC
spinnekopje
Member since:
2008-11-29

The few times I think about sending a text I try to get the info or question within 1 text. If that is not possible I just make a phone call which is cheaper and mostly easier in that case.
Only if a phone call is not possible I use sms messages and in that case I don't care about the number of texts, but that happens not very often. Most months I haven't even sent a single text (the structured ones I have to sent work excluded).

Reply Score: 1

Comment by elmimmo
by elmimmo on Wed 6th May 2009 00:52 UTC
elmimmo
Member since:
2005-09-17

SMS have perverted syntax, grammar and spelling (in Spain, at least), initially because of the castrated input method, then because unlike Hillebrand, we are not alone in this world and sent messages are actually part of a dialog with other humans, so naturally 160 is NOT enough many times. At that point, predictive dictionaries just go against your wallet.

2 years ago I came to live to Japan, where they have been using regular e-mail on the mobile phone for a decade, with a limit of 10.000 characters per message (and Japanese characters, that is), and boy was it a breath of oxygen to my fingers.

Nobody here abbreviates anything, and predictive dictionaries seem to know just too much about what you are thinking (of course, it also counts that there is no alternative way to write Japanese without one, that there cannot be such a thing as "spelling mistakes" in the written language, and that their grammar is far more systematic than English, let alone latin languages).

And then Twitter came with the great idea of taking this insipid (and this time, unnecessary) frustration to the web. I am sure I am not the only one spending 90% of the time in a twit in editing so as to fit what does not fit. Which is why I stopped using it.

SMS are not cool and we should kill them.

Reply Score: 1

Good business to be in
by boblowski on Wed 6th May 2009 12:24 UTC
boblowski
Member since:
2007-07-23

So let's see. €0,19 for 160 bytes. That is like €1.245,18 / MB.

I knew I made a wrong career move somewhere. I'm off to start a phone company. Cheers.

Reply Score: 1