The messaging world as we once knew it has changed significantly over the last few years with a raft of new services from internet players, device manufacturers and application developers, which all see the value in messaging and have all developed their own messaging services. Consumers have also changed their messaging behaviours, sending more messages than ever before, and expecting added value and richer features. Not only do they want to chat and text but share rich content, see presence and receive notification and updates Launched today, our own research, questioning 1,000 UK smartphone users from across the UK, shows that 80% of today’s consumers are now using Over-The-Top (OTT) and Instant Messaging (IM) services – with 76% using OTT and SMS together. This indicates a nation of ‘eclectic communicators’ with 76% of Smartphone owners using multiple messaging services simultaneously each day, and 40% using them all the time – leading to a fragmented market.
So, why are Smartphone owners using multiple messaging apps and what more can be done to ensure consumers remain loyal to one service? Acision’s research shows that consumers set a combination of requirements across cost, rich features and service quality; with the added assurance for all that they can reach anyone at any time. Today, no single service on the market can provide this, so using SMS with OTT/IM services simultaneously is the best way to cover all bases.
While the market is inundated with services, we believe mobile operators are in a unique position to lead the messaging space as the owner of the end-to-end mobile lifecycle and infrastructure. They generally provide the handset, the mobile number, the user contract and the network (including the move to LTE),as well as own the billing, the customer relationship and intelligence while driving the user’s quality of experience. With this in mind, mobile operators are only providers that have the ability to deliver a single solution which provides a rich, ubiquitous messaging experience breaking the fragmentation barrier and enabling monetisation of services with new commercial models.
Today, many operators are starting to launch their own IP, rich messaging services, such as RCS based on GSMA’s standards and branded as “joyn™”. The latest example is SK Telecom which signed up 1m users 50 days and is now allowing joyn users to send messages to non-joyn users and those off network, via SMS interworking. This approach provides operators with potential to exploit IP/LTE networks and Smartphones while having full design over the richer customer experience, with the unique capability to provide SMS and MMS interworking which can only be offered by mobile operators and can be a silver bullet their service offering.
Although only 6% of users polled in the UK had ever heard of joyn, 77% said they’d use it the service with the right pricing. Rich Messaging / RCS are considered a strategic investment to assure relevancy, value and increase customer loyalty. Whether the magic factor of SMS will also be realised in RCS is yet to be seen but if Rich Messaging is built into the mobile network, operators can ensure always-on available rich connectivity underpinned by SMS.
Already, 64% of users questioned in our research are attracted to features such as reaching anyone on any application. Additionally, consumers stated that a service which reaches everyone from a single application (58%) as well as provided a single conversation trail (52%) from all apps in a single view would be attractive to them. This shows the consumer desire for rich services is strong, and the response to joyn is a good indicator that people also want this but with the reach and reliability that is offered by SMS at the same time. Guaranteeing immediate delivery of a message via SMS when other applications are not available, for example, was popular with 59% of respondents.
In understanding the past, present and future of messaging, our strategy is to lead operators in their move to Rich Messaging and RCS, ensuring they can provide a seamless and superior user experience. Operators are in a position to deliver on the promise of reaching anyone, anywhere, on any device through a ubiquitous service and by taking this approach, they can lead the IP Messaging revolution and ecosystem. Our objective is to enable operators to lead by example, enhance and enrich messaging and bring new, monetisable services to market faster.
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