Amazon is offering a service to let you buy things with text messaging. Called TextBuyIt, it lets you text Amazon at 262966, with your search item (say “iPod Nano,” as seen in example above) . You can then select an item to buy, and get a call that confirms the details and the purchase.

The offering is notable because it’s the latest in a wave of new efforts by large retailers and publishers to provide content over the mobile phone, now that networks, browsers and other phone technologies are all being upgraded to make the mobile experience more efficient. Ironically, though, the upgrades made by carriers are as fractured as ever, and so Amazon is dropping back to use yesterday’s technology — simple and straightforward texting — to get ahead. Forget the browser-carrier wars. Providing a simple text platform for shopping, which will work on just about every single phone, is a drop-dead obvious move.

You can use other commands, too, such as “m” for more results (you can get up to eight per search), and then a number followed by ‘d,’ such as ‘2d,’ to get more details about the second result.

Although shopping by SMS is a good, cheap functional add-on and will allow busy people to make some quick urgent purcahses from the road, I can’t see that it will have much appeal in the long-run as browsing gets more efficient.

VentureBeat's mission is to be a digital town square for technical decision-makers to gain knowledge about transformative enterprise technology and transact. Discover our Briefings.