Twitter has just announced that they will no longer send SMS updates across the UK. Users in the UK need not panic, however, as they will be able to continue to receive updates from Twitter, on their mobile phones through other means.
The reason for this change is purely financial.
When Twitter receives a message from a user, they forward the message to several other users, for which they have to pay the mobile operators. As the popularity of Twitter increases, so does the cost to send these updates via SMS. So far, Twitter bore the cost, instead of passing it on to the users.
In countries like USA, Canada, and India, Twitter has reached a cost-effective understanding with local operators. Hence, the services will continue unhindered in these countries.
However, they have not been able to reach such an understanding in other places, as yet. While it is not financially practical to continue the SMS update service themselves, Twitter does not wish to burden users by passing on the costs to them either. Instead, they have decided to discontinue the service altogether.
Users can still access their updates through other methods such as Twitter Mobile (m.twitter.com), TwitterMail and TwitterBerry.
SMS is not the first service to be stopped by Twitter. The immensely popular micro-blogging platform also discontinued their instant messenger link not too long ago. It looks as though they will have to find ways of monetization soon or they could be heading downhill.
Discussions with mobile operators in several countries in Asia, Europe and North and South America are, however, apparently underway to further expand the Twitter SMS network across the globe so that users can send and receive long distance updates at reasonable rates.