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Using Social Networking To Cut Down On Phone Usage

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In continuing my experiment to cut down on SMS messages to save money by using social networking, some things have become apparent.

More in Internet | October 8th, 2009

iPhone Facebook AppLast month I set out on an experiment to cut down on my text messages to see if I could go from paying $15 to $5 a month. In order to do that with my iPhone, I would have to go from my average of 700 SMS per month to 200 or less. This is much harder than it sounds.

I looked at my last month’s usage and I was able to go down to 545 SMS (sent + received). From there I set my next goal to be under 300. This current billing period, which ends on the 22nd, I have used 176. So I have a 3 weeks for no more than 124 SMS which will be hard. Still, this is a significant improvement on the previous month in which I was already at about 300+ at this point.

How am I doing it? Social Networking. As it is I only use about 45 minutes of talk time for a whole month. Most of my communication is done via Facebook, Twitter, AIM, and (soon) Skype. Most of my friends are on at least one of the mentioned social networks. The only reason I haven’t been able to completely eliminate SMS is because most of these social networks don’t support Push Notifications on the iPhone and I’m unable to completely rely on them.

As you may already know, AT&T recently announced that they’ll allow apps on the iPhone to use voice over IP on the 3G network. What does this translate to? Use Skype (or other apps) to make your calls from anywhere, without using your minutes. The only thing that will keep me from using it all the time is the fact that Skype does not yet support Push Notifications. Imagine getting a notification for a call and it’s from Skype. You can talk all day long and it doesn’t affect your minutes at all.

In fact, since I’m only using about 45 minutes of talk time, why would I even need a voice or SMS plan? all I need is the data plan. In fact phone companies may begin to move towards a data plan model rather than minutes-per-month/SMS model.

The hard part about trying out this experiment is getting all your friends and family to contact you using these Social Networks. If all else fails I usually recommend emailing me, since I’ve always got my iPhone on me it’s as good as SMS.

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