Mobile Carriers Could Have Anticipated The Rise of OTT Services

2 mins read
May 13, 2013

Back in February the Indonesian telecommunications regulatory body (BRTI) announced plans to build and deploy its own messaging app platform to replace the aging SMS. The move was clearly an attempt to counter the onslaught of applications that substitute the core mobile communications services offered by mobile network companies. Indonesian telcos, Telkomsel and Indosat, have separately announced their plans to develop such an app.

Apps like Line, Skype, Viber, and Facebook Messenger are seen by many within the mobile industry as apps that undermine the basic services being provided by mobile telecommunications companies. While many of the telcos are actively working with messaging companies to provide specific data packages to keep their customers happy, internally they are looking for ways to steer customers back to their own services.

Today’s mobile communication lines have gone beyond phone calls and SMS. People can connect with their friends, families, and colleagues through email, video calls, audio and video messages, status updates, and voice over IP. None of these facilities are provided as standard features in mobile devices however, as they are all services built and maintained by many different companies running on top of the infrastructure owned or operated by the carriers.

The fact that these services are being used in lieu of phone calls and SMS is causing some concerns among mobile carriers. For the last couple of months, the top five free apps on Google Play Indonesia had been communication apps; KakaoTalk, WeChat, WhatsApp Messenger, Line, and Facebook. Similarly on the iPhone App Store, some of those apps have featured consistently in the top ten since March of this year.

Thanks to Samsung, Android as a whole has recently overtaken the top spot in the Indonesian smartphone market relegating BlackBerry to second place. BlackBerry’s most popular feature in Indonesia is of course, its messenger service. Having access to BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) and Facebook is the top reason for millions of Indonesians who own a BlackBerry. With the shift to Android, it stands to reason that messaging apps would be among the top apps as consumers seek alternatives to BBM.

Indonesian consumers want ways to communicate with each other freely. They don’t mind a periodic subscription fee, but they want to avoid instances of pay per use, hence the popularity of BBM which catapulted BlackBerry into becoming the most wanted smartphone for many years and the rise of WhatsApp as the most popular mobile messaging app alternative for non BlackBerry users in Indonesia. When BlackBerry users began to use BBM far more frequently than phone calls and SMS it should have raised a flag among telcos.

It seems obvious in hindsight that telcos should have been aware of this trend and moved to anticipate it one way or another but an industry figure recently told DailySocial that it’s almost impossible for telcos to move so quickly and head off the so called Over The Top services. “It would be easier for them to cooperate with OTT services and allow the major players into the ecosystem rather than fight them”, he said.

This mobile channel is brought to you by Samsung Developer Competition 2013. SDC ’13 is an app competition for Android apps that leverage Samsung’s mobile technologies. For more information please visit http://techne.dailysocial.net/sdc

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