By Anurag Lal, Oct 17, 2014
For telecom companies, 2014 has been the year of private messaging apps—a reality that carries grave implications for traditional wireless carriers and the industry at large.
In February, Facebook made a splash with the acquisition of WhatsApp for a cool $19 billion—a remarkable sum for a company with just five years' operating time under its belt. As the world's largest messaging app, WhatsApp now has more than 430 million monthly users and transmits more than 50 billion messages across its server per day. That's more messages sent across WhatsApp's servers than SMS messages from all carriers worldwide combined in 24 hours.
Yahoo followed in May with the acquisition of Blink, a mobile messaging startup whose app lets users send messages that will self-destruct at a time designated by the sender. And in July, Google made headlines when it acquired Emu, an Instant Messaging (IM) service that features a virtual assistant to help users automate tasks like scheduling dinner reservations or setting a calendar reminder based on chat conversations.
How telecom carriers can cope
A comprehensive, compelling suite of messaging offerings must be accessible through a single portal on a carrier's network. This includes offerings such as the relevant, timely distribution of exclusive content to users as well as social media, rich communications and text message integration. Consumers should be able to share video, picture, text and social messages seamlessly across platforms and networks. One great example of a carrier developed innovative messaging service is Verizon Messages (Message +). This service delivers on a lot of the functionality that end users are looking for in an intuitive multi-device fashion. Message + is available to all Verizon wireless subscribers. Carriers must act quickly to build more advanced messaging and social communication capabilities. Otherwise, OTT messaging applications will continue to erode carriers' customer base and revenue potential.
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