Idea: short-term unified group messaging enterprise

I was driving for 6 hours the other day and my wife was asleep, so what does one do: work out the details for a new kind of hosted communication service in my head.

https://unsplash.com/@clemono2

If you are a user of AirBNB, you might have noticed that when you get messages from your hosts in the app, you also get an SMS/text with (the first 140 chars) of the message. The number you get it from, is not the phone number of the host. In my case it was more often a US number. So I started thinking: how does this work? Obviously this is not a phone number per customer, since that would be impossible/unaffordable. If they use N phone numbers to send these messages, when someone replies, how do they know who to forward the message to? It’s not rocket science.

A typical user has one ‘current’ transaction with AirBNB (i.e. ‘where do I sleep tonight?’). If that user (whose phone number we know) sends a message, we know it is concerning that transaction. In the worst case the person stays in a different AirBNB place every night, and you want the group chat to be available 2 weeks before until 1 week after the transaction. That can be managed with 21 different phone numbers. For the hosts that manage several apartments or rooms, they might have up to 100 group chats that are active at the same time. Still, 100 different phone numbers, that’s still doable.

So then I thought, what if you would have a service that allows any company to do this? They want to set up a temporary group chat with different channels (their own app, email, SMS, WhatsApp, Messenger, …) but not manage the details. So that idea crystallised into a short-term unified group messaging enterprise – STUGME.

Continue reading Idea: short-term unified group messaging enterprise

iPhone bandwidth: orders of magnitude – 2009

04112009175905[1]I did a bandwidth test the other day with the iPhone SpeedTest tool. I wanted to compare the speed using (standard) GPRS, using 3G and my own Wifi. The results were all a power of ten apart:

  • iPhone on Proximus GPRS: 35 kbps (download & upload)
  • iPhone on Proximus 3G: 350 kbps (download & upload)
  • iPhone via Wifi: 3500 kbps (download – upload is +- 300 kbps)

 

The real reason is that I wanted to see how fast I would wear out my Proximus data plan (200MB per month). The answer: with GPRS I would need more than 12 hours of continuous downloading, with 3G I could do it in less than 2 hours. So GPRS is pretty safe, it’s also easier on your battery, but you have to live with slow, pre-1996 modem-like performance. The latency – the time it takes to get your first byte after requesting a URL –  is easily 10 to 50 seconds. Not milliseconds, seconds!

 

As a side note: do not take a time-based data subscription, certainly not with the iPhone. My first post-iPhone Proximus invoice was 800,- euro, which is more than the price of my iPhone! When I contacted them about that, they immediately offered to reimburse it and advised me to switch to a size-based plan. I guess I was not the first one …