Remember the last time you sat a desk with a pen in your hand, an empty sheet of paper in front of you, and a head full of thoughts you’ve been struggling to express to a friend or loved one? Writing, in the traditional sense, may be dying, but that doesn’t mean the technology behind how that letter gets to where it needs to go can’t be enhanced by mobile technology. Instead of having to go to your local post office, purchasing a pack of stamps, licking the back of said stamp, and then slapping it on an envelope, you’ll soon be able to just whip out your phone, send an SMS to a special phone number, and then you’ll receive a code that you then have to legibly write on the envelope. That code is your postage stamp. This system is set to go live in Sweden and Denmark, the latter plans to turn it on at the start of next month.
If it takes off, and I’m not sure it will since the type of people who still correspond with others via the written word are near the end of their lifespans, then it’ll be a triumph for mobile payments. The cost of a stamp, plus a sheet of paper, and a pen, and don’t forget an envelope, is no doubt higher than the cost of a text message or email, but like with all things in the technology industry one innovation doesn’t kill off the previous ways of doing things. TV didn’t kill the radio, and radio didn’t kill live performances. I’ve got to wonder though, wouldn’t it be easier to just widen the distribution points for stamps? Here in Finland you can buy them from just about any corner store.
Just think of all the letters that will never make it to their destination because the code on the front of their envelope wasn’t written clearly enough or how long it’ll take for grandpa to figure out how to send a text to a new phone number. It’s not going to be pretty.