Matti Makkonen

You may or may not have heard of him, but you have been impacted by him, whether you realize it or not!

As reported by BBC News, an illness has claimed the life of the “father of SMS,” Matti Makkonen, at the young age of 63.  In 2012, BBC News conducted an SMS interview with Makkonen.  The interviewer in the article points out how Makkonen planted the seeds for texting as early as 1984, when he discussed the idea of sending text messages via mobile phones.

Those seeds did not even begin to come to fruition until December 3, 1992, when the message “Merry Christmas” was sent from a computer to a mobile phone.  According to the interview, Makkonen credits Nokia with initiating “[t]he real launch of the service” in 1994 with the introduction of a phone that allowed for a convenient way to type in textual messages.

Over the next 20+ years, the technology grew and flourished.  This December will mark the 23rd anniversary of the first text message, and we can see its impact almost everywhere we look!  Texting has become one of the most prominent methods of communication for teens, young adults, and even elderly people.

I doubt Makkonen knew the impact that his idea would have on the whole world.  I doubt he could foresee the phenomenon that was going to sweep civilized nations across the globe.  He simply saw a possibility; then others jumped on the bandwagon and went after it.

Without Matti Makkonen, I would not be in the position I am in today.  I would not have this job.  Mobile Text Alerts would be non-existent.  Although his humility shows in his interview as he refuses to take full credit for the idea, the fact remains that his work has impacted our lives.  His passing truly is a monumental and sad event for the technology community, and for all of us.

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Breaking down how small businesses use text alerts is difficult because there are such a variety of businesses that use them!  From higher-end corporations to private studios to web-based organizations, there is no shortage of small businesses that send out mass text messages.  Electric companies use them to alert customers of power outages.  Drive-in movie theatres use them to inform moviegoers of showtimes and screenings.  Online news outlets use them to let people know about new articles or blog posts.  And the list goes on.

If I had to narrow it down, however, I would say that small business have 3 main purposes for using text alerts.

small businesses

  1. For customer and employee updates

Many of our small business customers use text alerts to update information for their customers and employees.  Whether it’s updating members of your dance studio about a class cancellation, letting employees know about a rescheduling of the company meeting, or informing festival vendors about the weather forecast for the day—text alerts are just the thing for these kinds of updates.

Weather alerts and emergencies are other updates that customers use mass text messages for.  A weather service might send out updates about the incoming thunderstorm warning.  A daycare might send out text alerts if there is a security threat.

  1. For advertising

Small businesses often use text alerts for advertising the latest product, service, promotion, or content.  You can get your customers excited about your product or service by keeping them in the know.  Make them feel privileged and exclusive.  Send gentle reminders.  You can even include a link in your text messages so that customers (or potential customers) can go directly to your website.

There are many examples of our small business customers who use text alerts for advertising.  Online news outlets use text messaging to let their subscribers know about a new article or blog post.  Authors use text alerts to let readers know about a new book in progress.

  1. For company needs

Another reason that a lot of small businesses use text alerts is for their own company needs.  Small businesses find it convenient to text their employees about open shifts that need to be filled or assignments that need to be completed.  It’s an easy way to let employees know about an upcoming meeting, or (as mentioned previously) to fill them in on a rescheduling or other pertinent information.

One of our communications-related business customers uses text alerts to let people throughout the company know if there is an issue such as a power outage or a blip in the service, so that people can begin working on the issue immediately.  Another small business customer uses text alerts to let their employees know about clients that need servicing; then any employee who is available can respond to the message and be assigned to that client.


As is plain to see, there are multiple uses and purposes for small businesses to use text alerts.  In what ways do you find text messaging useful for your small business?  And if you haven’t tried text alerts yet, why not sign up for a risk-free trial account at

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Classrooms today have a texting epidemic.  Students don’t seem to be able to refrain from going on their phones during class—they’re texting their friends, checking their social media, and all the while the professor/teacher is lecturing to deaf ears.  I witnessed this firsthand in many of my college classes.  And to the frustration of many teachers, I don’t think this kind of texting behavior is going to diminish any time soon.

As the saying goes, if you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em!

Texting in the Classroom

The Study

This article discusses texting and tweeting while in class and the impact it has on retention.  Although texting in class has been linked in studies to lower test scores and poorer retention, a newer study sought to examine the effects of texting and tweeting class-related material.  Students who participated in class-related texting proved to score equally as high as those who did not text at all.

For me, the implication of this study is that one of the best ways a teacher can fight young people’s obsession with texting is to join in the frenzy!  A teacher can help hold his or her students’ interest by including text messaging in their classroom.

Texting in Class?

A few of my own professors occasionally included texting as part of their curricula, and I personally thought that it was a lot of fun.  One professor used a web program to write a poll related to the material learned in class.  He displayed the poll’s questions on a screen, and we as students could text in our answers to the questions.  Then our answers would show up anonymously on the screen.

That professor’s use of texting in class is one example of how teachers are able to use text messaging as an aid to their lecture material.  I don’t know if any of us scored better on our exams because of that activity, but it definitely held our interest!


Teachers are always looking for ways to relate to their students and to get their students’ attention.  I think that texting in the classroom has the potential to be of great effectiveness for teachers, if used wisely.  Using texts during class time to encourage student participation, or sending out text alerts regarding homework reminders, review questions, schedules/dates, extra credit assignments—there are a lot of ways to effectively incorporate texting in the classroom.

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Many churches have wonderful, thriving children’s ministries.  Nurseries, pre-K programs, Sunday School classes, summer camps, Vacation Bible Schools—there is often a lot going on with children at church.  But with all the activities and programs going on, workers and parents can get overwhelmed.  This is where text alerts can be useful.

childrens ministry

Summer Bible Camp

With Mobile Text Alerts, parents can sign up to receive texts about their children’s events and activities.  Receiving these texts can help parents stay organized so that they can understand when and where their child should be.  For example, parents will appreciate knowing details about the upcoming summer camps—costs, dates, what time they should drop their children off, when they should pick their children up, and other pertinent information.  These kinds of updates help eliminate confusion and keep communication open as parents are able to reply to the texts.

Vacation Bible School

Vacation Bible Schools are coming up or are already in session for churches across the country.  Text alerts can remind parents about times and schedules regarding their child’s VBS program.  More children are likely to be involved if the parents are being reminded often, and especially if they are being reminded on their own phones.

VBS Workers

In addition to parents, children’s ministry workers and volunteers also benefit from receiving text alerts.  With Vacation Bible School there can be dozens upon dozens of volunteers—sometimes even a hundred or more.  Coordinating all of these workers can be extremely daunting.  Sending out text alerts about times, dates, issues, and other important information can help keep everyone on the same page in the midst of all the crazy activity.


There are a lot of ways that people in children’s ministry can use text alerts this summer.  Feel free to contact us to let us know if you have any questions about how you can use text alerts effectively in your ministry!

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church members

A large portion of Mobile Text Alerts customers are churches or religious organizations.  Churches represent exactly the kind of institution that Mobile Text Alerts was designed for, and they have found our services useful.  Not only do churches use text alerts for the typical purposes—information, event cancellations, etc.—but they have also found more personal purposes for text alerts.

Many of our church customers use text alerts to really connect with their congregations.  They let their members know that they are praying for them.  They let them know about how God has been working in the congregation: sharing prayer requests, spiritual victories within the church, and lessons learned during sermons or retreats.

I want to encourage churches and similar organizations to use text alerts to be involved with their members in a unique way.  Don’t be afraid to get personal with your texts—people like transparency.  You can send texts such as:

“Praise for God’s work in teaching us humility through pastor John’s sermon last Sunday.”

“Anita Harrison requests prayer for wisdom in dealing with her teenage son’s rebellion.”

“Pastor Jerry has really been struggling this week in preparing his sermon and could use some prayer.”

One thing I should note about all this (and this should go without saying): make sure that you get permission BEFORE sending any texts like that.  Do NOT share people’s personal struggles in your text alerts unless the person involved specifically tells you that it is okay.

I envision how text alerts can be used in a powerful way to really help congregations feel connected and grow closer.  It will take some planning and effort on your part, but I think it will be worth it.  And let us know if you have other great ideas or examples of how you have used text alerts effectively in your own congregation!

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text 911

San Antonio is one of the latest areas to incorporate a feature that allows citizens to text 911 during an emergency.  Counties in 16 states across the country have already integrated this feature, and these counties have experienced numerous success stories.

One woman was able to text 911 when in need of an ambulance after falling down a flight of stairs.  Because of asthma problems, she was incapable of making a phone call, so she texted in to 911 and received help.  In the previously mentioned San Antonio news story, a woman was kidnapped by a man she knew.  Though unable to make a call, she was able to text 911 to inform police of her whereabouts.

I for one think that this new development is a great idea.  In all honesty, I wonder why this hasn’t caught on sooner, as texting has become more and more a normal means of communicating.  There is great potential for this kind of feature to help people across the country.

As someone who is in the texting business, I appreciate hearing about text messages being used in a positive way.  With all the negative stories we hear about texting and driving or texting scandals, it is nice to see people taking technology and utilizing it to the benefit of society.

Though there can be certain stigma associated with texting, I think we can learn (and are learning) how to use it properly.  I think we can continue to learn new ways to take advantage of it.  I think that ideas such as a feature allowing people to text 911 should continue to be explored.

This new feature is yet another example of how useful texting can be, if we take advantage of it.  There are so many possibilities!  All we have to do is imagine them.

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