Fetion Integrates SMS Text Messaging with the PC

10 May 2010

The idea of being able to send or receive cell phone text messages on a computer is not a new one, but this Chinese software called “Fetion” (飞信 in Chinese, literally, “flying letter”) is new to me. In a recent AllSet Learning teacher training session, we were discussing various types of technology for learning, including ChinesePod, Anki, and Skritter, when 飞信 came up (weird English name: “Fetion”).

For now, Fetion is PC only, although it also has mobile versions. Its “smartphone” version is aimed at Windows Mobile users, not Android or iPhone users. This all makes a lot of sense if Fetion is targeting a younger Chinese demographic rather than professionals.

Fetion mixes social networking properties with communications management properties. One of the benefits it boasts is the ability to store all of your text messages offline on your computer (which Google Voice is currently doing in the US, but in the cloud). Here are the features listed on the Fetion website’s 特性 page:

– A multi-platform system means you’re always reachable
– Free text messaging
– Super-cheap rates for group voice chat
– File-sharing
– Anti-harassment security functionality
– 24/7 customer service

I’ve got to say, this doesn’t seem especially impressive; this technology has been around for a while. It seems that Fetion has caught on with a sizable userbase, however. I’m curious how far it will go.

Have you used Fetion? What are your experiences with it? Is it useful? Do any of your Chinese friends use 飞信?

Share

John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.

Comments

  1. I met a guy from Beijing who convinced me to sign up for Fetion, but I was not impressed so I haven’t used it much. It’s basically IM for your (Java-enabled) phone. I don’t use IM much.

    • Really? I’ve been given the impression that it’s much more SMS-focused. I can’t really try it out myself, because I’m rarely using a PC these days.

  2. use it all the time. It is a nice thing, but sometimes, when it switch to cellphone (when you go offline) there can be some dramatic delay (dramatic in the sense you are missing vital information).

  3. My gf uses it pretty frequently with people she sends SMSs to often. It’s basically like IMing with your computer to someone on their phone. The only real benefit I’ve seen of it, is that it can send SMS so the person you message doesn’t have to be signed in to QQ or anything. I considered trying it out, but I don’t have much of a use for it, and it’s only in Chinese, which doesn’t work so hot for me.

    Also, like Tweety said, frequently it seems that sending an SMS to Fetion results in delays or messages that are never delivered. Rarely does this occur when using Fetion to SMS though.

  4. Definitely, this has been around for a while, but its for the younger set, which is why you might not have received those text messages “Your friend ‘Little Bing’ wants to chat with you, if you accept please respond with ‘Yes” .. As I understand it, it helps Chinese students save money on text messages. That’s the incentive. After you agree that you indeed know this person, Little Bing (who you probably met a week before) she can send you text messages via her MSN Mobile phone app with little or no cost to her, just as if she was MSN-ing you from a PC.

    You’re right, in an age of 99 dollar smartphones, this kind of tech is really outdated.

    A friend told me on the weekend, she hates texts and only does it when her phone is almost out of money (?? a girl that hates texting, i know). What’s funny is this Fetion is effectively the next rung down from a text.

    “Ok, I only have like 3 yuan left on my phone… but i gotta tell you this hilarious story…”

  5. A few of my acquaintances use it. I gather it just means you can choose to use a computer instead of your mobile phone to send text messages, which is so much faster and less frustrating than using a damn numeric keypad.

  6. It saves money and is definitely easier to text. Don’t think it will grows too big though unless they have a mobile version soon.

  7. I used it a couple years ago, but only for a few months. I remember that there was a 10 rmb fee or something (maybe per month, maybe just a one-time fee?)

    Anyway, I was on the receiving end of texts most of the time, and found it pretty irritating. The other person sends you a long series or several-part messages and it’s all you can do to reply “嗯” before you’ve received 4 more messages. Granted this was on a Nokia brick, so I had no mini keyboard or anything.

    I grew to dread chatting with certain friends because it would mean reading from my cell phone for hours instead of working.

    One great use for it is cheating in exams, though. I’m studying chinese lit. with Chinese students, and the finals are almost never easy. I haven’t actually tried it, but a lot of my foreign friends (read: Korean friends) sneak their cell phones into the exam. They send a message to their friend at home, who who searches online and downloads an essay for them. Then all they have to do is copy the essay onto the exam sheet – not bad huh? I guess the professors never think that an in-class essay could be plagiarized so they don’t check.

  8. Checkout also this tool for receiving and automatic replying to incoming sms text messages:
    http://smsenabler.com

  9. how to dopwnload fetion ?

  10. It seems everyone in this forum is from a Western country and enjoys paying for text, which I am sure you wouldn’t enjoy much if you are with t-mobile : ). Feixin is useful in China because it saves people money and can mean the difference between paying 60 dollars for phone service for a month and paying 30 dollars depending on how many texts you send and receive within that month. Free messaging is useful in China simply because it saves people money in an economy where white collar university graduates generally make 1/10th-1/6th the income of most Western developed countries. Its not meant to be a revolutionary new technology to take the sms world by storm. Its simply an ap to add and text your friends for free. It is also useful in sending mass sms for marketing and building client lists for companies who wish to keep their telemarketing or textamarketing costs down. In China texting is a preferred way used to let all your clients know about an event at the same time for free instead of calling everyone individually. It looks better on a financial spread sheet to have omitted costs instead of seeing 5,000rmb spent on texting clients or even having your staff busy texting or calling clients at a cost of over 10,000rmb a month.

    I think some people may be out of touch with the Chinese market if they think its not a useful service. It may not be useful in the USA or other Western countries where we are accustomed to waste pennies, but those pennies add up if you are wasting them thousands at a time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *