How Kobe Taught The US About Text Messaging
By Mike Masnick, Fri Jun 18 19:45:00 GMT 2004

While everyone is focused on the legal ramifications of the ruling opening up text messages as evidence in the Kobe Bryant case, it may also have an unexpected promotional value for text messaging services.

It's amazing what can set off a new technology. For years, the wireless industry in the US has struggled to understand why Americans don't seem to use text messaging that much. There's plenty of evidence that it's now started to catch on, but it's mostly been with the younger generation via promotions like AT&T Wireless's sponsorship of American Idol.

Reaching older generations with new technologies is always more difficult, but that doesn't mean carriers aren't trying. Verizon is pushing forward with a promotion to get people to teach their fathers to SMS for Father's Day (a weak copy of the "Teach UR Mum 2 TXT" program in the UK -- which at least had a catchy name and a message about safety). Verizon's promotion isn't all that compelling. It comes across as a fairly obvious way to try to get more people text messaging for Verizon's benefit, but isn't particularly persuasive in why your father really needs to be text messaging.

However, with many people of all generations focused on the Kobe Bryant case, the news that certain text messages are admissible as evidence may actually introduce many Americans to the concept of text messaging. It certainly may not be the best, or most pleasant, way to learn about text messaging. However, the point of advertising is to get your message where the eyeballs are -- and the eyeballs are apparently watching this case and learning about the intricacies of text messaging.