...and here's a great example of one of those PR companies engaging bloggers: I was invited to meet Doug and David of Hotxt for a chat this afternoon.

It was interesting to talk through their product and how they see the industry; I didn't learn anything much about their product roadmap (which is hardly surprising), but I have a few notes from our conversation, things which sparked thoughts or struck chords:

  1. There's an asynchronicity to text messaging which IM lacks, and which is attractive in itself;
  2. Hotxt users are surprisingly enthusiastic about the web as a means of access to the Hotxt service (though I suspect that when you're launching a mobile proposition this puts you in competition alongside a whole set of businesses you're looking to radically differentiate yourselves from, and forces you to put effort into competing with them);
  3. The Hotxt service has gone free partly to "build an audience", and more interestingly because compliance with ICSTIS regulations around handling of premium SMS services were off-putting to customers;
  4. Anonymity and control of your own identity are a big advantage of a service like this over raw SMS (where you're effectively giving away your mobile number with every message you send);
  5. As online social services grow, they're taking market share away from the dating companies - who are in turn forced to focus on niche communities to survive;
  6. Operators are really bad at billing accurately for mobile data usage - Doug told a story about his daughter Hotxting from China and not paying a penny in charges;
  7. Services like group messaging are where Hotxt plan to differentiate themselves from the competition: augmenting text messaging rather than replacing it;

Good fun. Dragons Den doesn't do Doug justice.