Mobile Phone Subscriptions
March 10, 2010 6:20 PM   Subscribe

I would like to create a 'text of the day' type mobile phone service. A service where the user sends a word to a cell #. They are then billed monthly for the service via their mobile phone bill. You see this kind of thing on TV all the time. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
posted by JohnGL to Technology (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Most of the ads I see on TV seem extremely scammy (targeting teenagers or other people not aware of the actual costs). Regardless, you might have luck searching for shortcodes, or shortcode services, which are the name for the four or five digit codes typically seen on TV. This should give you a cost idea. More on shortcodes
posted by null terminated at 7:00 PM on March 10, 2010

Response by poster: Yes I agree most all of the ads I see are very scammy indeed. I'm trying to create a news service my my current customer base. It does not target teenagers and every customer will know the cost. i have no interest in scams or tricking people into giving me money. Thanks so much for your help. Have a great one.
posted by JohnGL at 7:39 PM on March 10, 2010

I've worked with Mobile Commons only in an advocacy context, but this seems like something they would be able to handle.
posted by quadrilaterals at 9:32 PM on March 10, 2010

You probably want to do this via 4INFO which will handle all the short-code stuff for you — however each SMS may have an ad in it.
posted by nicwolff at 9:39 PM on March 10, 2010

Also, just note that if you are trying to setup a rebill service like this you will need to find a high risk merchant account as not many people are going to want to deal with you given how risky your service is with all the returns, complaints, etc.
posted by Elminster24 at 9:54 PM on March 10, 2010

In the parlance of the mobile industry you want to set up a service relying on a "common short code." These codes need to be approved by each of the carriers and there's maintenance fee that runs into the $1,000/month.

As others have noted, you can work with a company that has already received a approval for a code and is willing (for a fee) to drive your service based on a keyword.

Not to be a bucket of cold water, but as someone whos' been in this industry for a while and works with companies across the ecosystem, you should not be thinking that there are massive (or even paltry) riches to be had with a paid text info service that requires "pull" from users to access your content (you dont' say what that is--that would be helpful here).

The most common construct would be to use the short code/keyword to acquire subscribers who would opt in to receive daily text updates and be billed through their phone bill. You'd definitely need to work with a vendor that had the carrier billing relationships and "SMS aggregation" deals to facilitate distributing your content service.

Taking a step back, what are you trying to do here? Make money? Provide a service that helps you make money from something else you are providing? If you want to use the mobile channel to help your business there are a lot of options, but without more information it's not clear this approach is the best one.
posted by donovan at 10:18 PM on March 10, 2010

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