RE: Unicode on mobile devices

From: Philippe Verdy (
Date: Wed Apr 30 2008 - 11:31:13 CDT

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    > [] De la part de Jeroen
    > Ruigrok van der Werven
    > Envoyé : mercredi 30 avril 2008 10:30
    > À : Kai Hendry
    > Cc :
    > Objet : Re: Unicode on mobile devices
    > -On [20080430 10:12], Kai Hendry ( wrote:
    > >You could just email them. ;)
    > Of course, but text message pricing in Europe and Asia is not
    > as, pardon me, braindead as it is in the United States. So
    > when you're on the move without a computer close by messaging
    > like that makes a lot of sense.

    SMS messaging is expensive here, and priced per units of 160 "characters";
    it's unbelievable that such ridiculous length is provided for sending so
    short messages at a so high price; organizations that defend consumers are
    denouncing it regularly, but operators have the law for them (they want
    users to subscribes plans with lots of options just to get the right to send
    several hundreds SMS per month, but they are still maintaining the price.

    However it should not be forgotten that the main issue is not there: SMS are
    sent over a network that was not designed to support huge amounts of data
    (the GSM devices are tuned to listen for a limited nbumber of frequencies,
    and most of the bandwidth on these frequencies is stil reserved for the
    telephony itself.

    When you are sending SMS messages, they won't reach the recipoient if they
    exceed some technical limit, and the sender cannot know if the recipient has
    a compatible device that will be able to use a larger bandwidth. IT would
    require another standard, and that's why the MMS standard was developed
    later, but sent using another technology, and priced even higher for the

    There was still no huge demand by users for getting somethging else on SMS
    services. The real thing that has been developed is not by extending SMS,
    but instead using Internet data connections to exchange regular emails.

    Technically, the SMS network should die rapidly, replaced by mobile Internet
    data connections, but these connections are still very slow (over GPRS) and
    also priced too high (subscription plans are priced with just a handful of
    megabytes at most, and each extra kilobyte is billed...)

    > >Just to be clear, my test aim was is to read foreign text. Not input
    > >methods. That's a whole different kettle of fish.

    Given the benefits that operators are making in SMS mesaging, there's no
    reason for them to drop the message length limitation (or at least give a
    much more cumfortable limit): the real thing that they are billing is the
    service of sending messages, but as long as they will maintain those limits
    and will request extra cents for messages that are just a few bytes longer,
    the "SMS language" will persist.

    For the "SMS language", you don't need extra characters, and the basic
    character set is much enough, and nothing there is challenging the mobile
    device manufacturers to extend the functions in their devices to allow
    easier input of unabbreviated words with their accents.

    Note that most SMS messages are sent directly from people to people that
    know themelves and share the same language; these users just want a way to
    send them fast, and apparently they don't care about the non support of some
    extra characters, given that they also don't care about normal orthography.

    I'm personally not addict of SMS, that's a function of my mobile phone that
    I almost never use (so I have no subscribed plan for sending them). I much
    prefer receiving normal voice calls, or recording messages in a vocal box
    (that I can access from everywhere, including through the Internet where I
    can save them when needed on my PC).

    Every mobile phone today has a mobile internet connection and is able to
    send and receive emails. In emails the technical limitations no longer
    exist, and pricing is very different (priced per total monthly volume in
    bytes, not priced per arbitrary units of 160 "characters"). They have also
    screens with better resolution. That's where mobile device manufacturers
    should work to offer more cumfortable text composition and better text
    rendering. I ma convinved that the problem has never been a technical
    limitation by the cost of memory or thr size of the needed firmware (most
    mobiles today are also offering large spaces for storing MP3s, photos and

    So yes there's no **technical** excuse for not extending the supported
    character set in mobile devices. The only one is **commercial** : the too
    high pricing of messaging services by operators that absolutely want to
    preserve their very high margins of benefits (a minimum of 80%, something
    never seen anywhere else on the market for other products sold to the
    general public and not in niche markets).

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