Aram Krol, senior proposition director at Acision, discusses the future of SMS.
Eurocomms.com: Amid the rise of smartphones and OTT messaging, is SMS still a valid service today?
Aram Krol: The increase of over-the-top (OTT) services has seen mobile messaging become more instant, social and live than ever before.
However, this does not mean that SMS is a dying platform. According to Acision’s recent research in the UK, SMS continues to be the preferred messaging service, even by smartphone users: 93 percent actively use SMS; 74 percent state that they need SMS; and 51 percent state they would be “lost” without it.
Despite popular belief, SMS usage is increasing. Portio research predicts SMS traffic will top eight trillion in 2011, an increase from 6.9 trillion in 2010. In a fragmented marketplace, SMS remains the only service that works across any phone, network, or operating system.
Can operators expect to see growth in SMS revenues moving forward?
SMS is still the most profitable revenue-generator for operators. According to Portio research, the worldwide mobile messaging market will be worth over $200 billion this year, with $127 billion (64 percent) coming from SMS.
Messaging remains the largest single driver of data revenues for most mobile operators; Informa Telecoms & Media forecasts that messaging revenues will continue to grow over the next five years, with SMS alone generating $136.9 billion by 2015.
We've seen RCS get a rebrand recently, does the same need to happen to SMS to make it more attractive?
No, SMS is the most recognised mobile application globally and a "brand" in its own right, which is still being evolved to support new, innovative messaging services.
On the consumer side are there any developments we can expect from SMS moving forward?
We are working on helping operators realise new messaging services such as message intelligence (eg, parental controls – protecting children against mobile bullying and mobile usage during school hours), message delivery controls (eg, out-of-office services, copy-forward; or diversion to email), group messaging, SMS Collect, Prepaid SMS Reply and SMS Notifications on delivery.
Acision launched an enterprise messaging service earlier this month – how will this benefit operators?
The Acision Enterprise Network (AEN) is the world’s first dedicated, stand-alone messaging network aimed at global corporations. It provides a single point of entry to connect operators, brands and consumers, while delivering universal capabilities reach and reliability for measurable mobile marketing campaigns via text.
With the AEN it is now easier for operators to actively seek new revenue streams from the increase in messaging. The AEN provides:
- Country-wide coverage requiring all (normally competing) operators to participate
- Global coverage which even the largest carrier groups can’t provide
- A continuous development of new use cases which are driven by a global ASP community where each use case becomes instantly available throughout the entire AEN.
Are there any specific industries that you think operators should target?
Industries Acision is targeting include multiple verticals – from healthcare to FMCG’s, social networking, logistics and financial services.
The possibilities for consumer offerings are plentiful too, from integrated mobile couponing, alarms, appointment reminders, meeting scheduling, tracking, fraud prevention alerts, to SMS rewards, interactive payments, commerce, promotions and ERP.
Where do you see the future of messaging heading?
The idea that IM will replace SMS in the long term does not match up with the current subscriber figures – last year Juniper Research predicted that 1.3 billion users will be using IM services by 2016 whereas the number using SMS stands at approximately five billion today.
In addition, operators are still hesitant over how to monetise IM and as a result, have a $140 billion reason to continue the SMS service as we know it today. SMS and IP Messaging services will work alongside each other with SMS being the core backbone to IP messaging.