92% of people in the United States use their phones to send text messages. We rely so heavily on text messaging that most of us take the service for granted. Texting is just part of our daily lives.
But what would you do if you unexpectedly lost all of the text messages on your phone? Could AT&T or Verizon retrieve that data at your request?
The answer, shockingly, is no. Your "personal" data is actually the property of your phone service provider. There is no way to retrieve the data unless you have a court subpoena. Even with a subpoena the service provider will only grant you one week's history of your own personal records.
For most casual conversations the potential loss of data is not much of a concern. But some situations are different. For example, what if one of the text message logs you lost were with a friend who died suddenly after your conversation? There is no technical reason why keeping data for sentimental, nostalgic, or business value is not feasible.
There must be a better solution to the data retention problem. Our communications today outside face-to-face meetings are now almost entirely digital. Josh Konowe founder of Uppidy in Washington, DC, has a potential answer to the current lack of control over our own messaging data.
Uppidy is an app for Android, BlackBerry, and iOS phones that saves your text messages for later viewing. A user can then search through and read their text message archives. The Wall Street Journal detailed how Uppidy and another app, Calltrunk work early last year.
The Uppidy app saves your messages from your phone to its cloud service. The app then provides you a window into the stored data at your convenience.
The Uppidy team is working to find the right revenue model for its offering. One option in testing is a premium service for $1.99 to store pictures and video in addition to text messages. The free version of the app shows advertisements, similar to how Gmail works, as another form of income.
Another promising revenue source is from large enterprises that are looking to store employees' messages in a secure, private environment. Uppidy could provide value to enterprises by allowing employees view prior business conversations when their devices are lost, broken, or are upgraded. Ars Technica covered Uppidy's enterprise service early last year.
Josh and I had a wide ranging discussion not only about Uppidy as his most recent company (he started and sold two previous companies) but also about Washington, DC entrepreneurship in general. I will detail that part of our conversation in a future post.