May 30, 2013
While at CTIA (News - Alert) 2013 last week, amongst a slew of seemingly never ending vendor meetings we did manage to connect with a company we were in fact very much looking to connect with. Infinite Convergence, a subsidiary of Infinite Computer Solutions, is another of those companies that we will classify as a CTIA 2013 Gem. We caught up with Infinite’s president and CEO, Anurag Lal, who walked us through the company’s latest suite of products, chief among them the company’s new RCS capabilities, with which Anurag hopes to bring the wireless carriers into the 21st century of messaging.
Infinite Convergence was born out of the original Motorola back in 2010 when, through a series of agreements, Motorola transferred its messaging products, all related intellectual property and its messaging team employees to Infinite. The upshot here is that, though relatively young at three years of age or so, Infinite is in fact based on an enormously deep background of messaging expertise and experiences. Anurag himself is part of team that has those extensive Motorola messaging roots.
As one might expect of a company born of Motorola, Infinite has deep access to the global carrier community to which it offers, as a one-stop shop, a number of critical messaging services:
- Enterprise Messaging Services (EMS)
- Personal Messaging Cloud (PMC)
- RCS (Rich Communications Services) Communications Suite
- Short messaging, converged messaging, public safety messaging, multimedia messaging
Our focus in meeting up with Anurag this time around was squarely on the emerging issues of over-the-top (OTT) applications such as WhatsApp. We discussed the fact that these applications are significantly eroding (or at least beginning to erode) what has to date been a wireless carrier cash cow – SMS and texting revenue that the carriers have been taking for granted over the last few years as a revenue stream that would always keep on giving. We also discussed the fact that these apps are growing in popularity and what, if anything, the carriers can do to turn things back in their favor.
Earlier this year at ITEXPO, our colleague Peter Bernstein hosted a keynote panel session that focused on the question of carriers either evolving to deliver useful services that can be monetized or their becoming literally dumb pipes. Candidly, that session did not leave the carriers fairing well. Anurag, on the other hand, was optimistic in noting that, “I sincerely believe that the senior members of carrier world management have clearly understood the need to innovate and to deliver true disruptive services around messaging. They have felt the pain where they really feel it – in the revenue stream.”
When I asked him if he thought the carriers could pull it off or even if they were at least ready to do so, he was a bit less sanguine: “Well, it’s hard to move a mountain.” But then he brightened up and hit me with the punch line: “But that’s what Infinite Convergence is here for!”
The secret sauce for Infinite, as far as Anurag is concerned, is unmatched depth. The company’s IP and messaging DNA dates back to the early 1990s with an accumulated 18+ years in the field and over 2,000 years of employee experience in messaging and mobile product development experience. Infinite Convergence was also the first company to deploy messaging on an LTE network and the company enables the largest MMS service in the United States. Currently, the company services over 100 million subscribers globally and is responsible for over 100 billion messages of every sort on an annual basis.
Rich Communications Services – RCS is the Key
The key topic we met up with Infinite Convergence to discuss, however, was RCS. RCS has been touted as a panacea, but it’s not quite so simple. Just because a team has the best engine on the Formula One circuit doesn’t mean that team will have the fastest car or, for that matter, a car that can even complete a race. The key to a successful RCS implementation is to ensure that all the moving parts fit together into a cohesive whole that subscribers will find highly delightful, extremely useful and well worth recommending.
In all honesty, when was the last time you or anyone you know said any such thing about any mobile application that any carrier has ever loaded up on a smartphone? Our own answer is never. We posed the question for Anurag and he was slightly less negative but admitted that the challenge is there to tackle.
Infinite offers an RCS chat solution that is standards-based while also providing innovative interoperability with legacy devices; legacy devices are a huge key to success (not unlike ensuring the racecar has the right wheels on it). It offers full one-to-one and group based chat using text and multimedia, and is supported with intelligent content adaptation depending on the device being used; this is critical for ensuring that users are delighted and not maddened.
Infinite’s RCS Messaging is built for high availability and high volume and is supported on a variety of platforms and deployment options. RCS Messaging can be deployed in-network, in the cloud or as a hosted solution. Finally, RCS Messaging supports functionality with or without an IMS core, allowing accelerated deployment options or deployment with minimum CAPEX. The above is the car, but there is still the one last critical piece for the team, and that is the driver. Infinite Convergence anticipates helping carriers to deliver on delightful RCS services by also being able to function as the team’s driver, at least early on, as its carrier partners seek to develop “meaningful” services that will attract huge numbers of users and aid in building new brand loyalty.
As we noted in our own panel discussion mentioned earlier, this is truly a tall order, even for an Infinite Convergence to pull off. Anurag, however, remains quite hopeful. The depth is there, the expertise is there and the platforms are there. This is why Infinite Convergence is clearly a CTIA 2013 Gem for us. It will certainly be interesting to see if Infinite Convergence manages to find itself in the winner’s circle. We’re willing to bet they will, at the very least, come close to doing so. Anurag, on the other hand, clearly expects to win and we respect that. The company has a fighting chance to pull it off.