This article in WSJ shows the power of technology through this innovative use of mobiles by the fishermen in Tamil Nadu. This article points finger to the miserable weather forecasts of traditional agencies that makes fishermen feel the need of above SMSes. In developed countries the forecast is quite accurate and there is no need for such services.
But then, India is a market full of innovative uses, especially in the mobile space. The earliest innovation being the missed call. For readers from outside India, a Missed Call is where a caller calls and disconnects before the call is picked up. With mobile users, the caller's number is displayed on the mobile of the called party. It is quite widely used in India.
Now what is the use of a missed call? I will list few scenarios, but I am sure there are many more depending on the inter personal communication protocol (IPCP). I will come to IPCP a little later.
1. Caller does not have money to spend on a call and wants the other person to call. He/she makes a missed call. The other person calls and speaks. This is probably the most basic of the uses.
2. Both parties have agreed to meet at some place. Whoever reaches first will give the other person a missed call.
3. A missed call is made to economically convey nice emotions like, "I miss you" or "I love you". The thoughts reach the destination without costing anything to the entrenched parties.
So what is IPCP - Consider scenario 2 above. Now the 2 people have decided that a missed call means "I have reached". IPCP is established and will expire with the missed call.
Similarly, say A and B are going to a wedding. They are reaching the venue directly and they need to buy a gift on the way. Whoever buys a gift first gives a missed call. Similar to above, yet different.
One can think of hundreds of such examples. The idea of IPCP is the users decide the meaning of the missed call. And who framed the concept of IPCP....well that would be none other than yours truly :)
And, IPCP also leads to some really amusing and sometimes embarassing situations. More on that in some other post.