One of the key components to enable word-of-mouth spreading of a good service, is the ability for one user to share the experience with their friend. Duh.
In mobile, how can you enable that? SMS your friend, Email your friend, Twitter, maybe others. Facebook connect has been anticipated for ages on mobile web, but they seem to like only iphone apps, for now.
Trying not to force a behavior change or forcing someone to type in a full email address on their phone, I was looking for a simple, and free way for users to "tell their friends" over SMS.
If you have a service that uses SMS, then you're working with an SMS aggregation, and, for the most part, they need to know the carrier as well as the phone number you're sending the SMS to. But, what if you don't know the carrier?? I mean, the user of the service may know the phone number of their friend, but is it realistic to expect them to know the carrier? No, it's not.
So, you turn to the aggregation and ask them about reverse carrier lookup.
News flash: On top of the $.03 the resulting SMS will cost, the lookup will be additional $.02-$.03 and some 2-3 digit monthly minimum. Right, the US carriers are starving and need to make more money.
Alright, Google search takes you into this terrific FREE White pages feature. You can reverse lookup mobile carriers by phone numbers, and, from my experiments, they have it right!
Next step: sign up for their API. But: the API returns completely different, incorrect results!
I asked their API people for their thoughts on this, and here's what I got back:
"The carrier information available through our free, developer API is the same information we display in our search results on WhitePages. So, in terms of search results for a reverse phone query, the information is the same. However, on WhitePages, we offer an exclusive “Mobile Carrier Lookup” feature. We do not plan on including the mobile carrier information available through the “Mobile Carrier Lookup” feature on WhitePages via the free, developer API."
I'm speechless. This is really valuable information that's available one place and not in the API. Easily fixable, but they don't seem to see the value. ugh.