Contributed by Joby Babu, Chief Operating Officer of Nimbuzz

Joby Babu

The basic needs of society are often triggers for innovations in the technology and telecom space across the world. While, there might be a several million phones out there in the market, one thing that binds all of them together is their ability to help users stay connected with each other. Similarly, mobile messaging applications equip users to not only reach out to their personal and professional connections but allow them to do this at a much lesser cost.

The success of messaging applications or external communication platforms as I like to call them is creating a series of creative disruptions in the telecom space. Their tremendous popularity especially in the Asian market has become a major concern for mobile operators who have had to give up a huge portion of their SMS revenue. However, this disruption has brought high value to consumers who no longer have to shell out huge currency to call or message people they would like to reach out to. This development has forced telecom giants to identify new ways of compensating for the sudden loss in revenue for a 20 year old technology.

Partnerships with communication platforms allow telecom operators to drive data usage amongst their existing users like never before. These tie-ups with mobile internet companies give operators the added benefit that they missed out on during the PC era when social networks constricted themselves only to the mercy of the computer. Telcos are aggressively looking to capitalise on the consumer shift from PC to mobile to grow their existing customer base. According to recent Nimbuzz data, there are more than 1 billion minutes of calls made per month and more than 102 billion messages sent and received per month, which is much more than that of some (or any) of the biggest global operators.

While, Telcos might have reduced access to SMS users, data revenue opportunities have increased considerably. Leading telecom player, Aircel in India had recently partnered with a communication platform (Nimbuzz) to drive data usage starting with the Jammu & Kashmir regions. They informed their subscribers to download the Nimbuzz application and in return gave users access to a specific amount of free data. The partnership allowed the partnering operator to compensate loss of SMS revenue with high data usage amongst subscribers. Partnerships of similar nature are catching the eyes of operators across the world. These tie-ups not only allow Telcos to drive data usage but also give them access to messaging app users. Considering a majority of these applications have global presence and impact, the opportunities for app-operator tie ups is increasingly high.

App-operator partnerships are also a great value proposition for app companies who heavily rely on data offering of the mobile operator. In a mobile-first country like India, where a majority of users access the internet for the first time on a mobile device, the attractiveness of mobile internet is extremely vital for app success. The future of communication is being defined by communication platforms but the Telcos need to actively partner to ensure that the end consumer is guaranteed maximum return for the money spent.

It will be extremely interesting to see where this convergence of operator service and mobile communication platforms is headed. The boundaries of Telco offerings are largely blurring with messaging apps taking over the role that was native to the service provider. The world has been talking of this trend for many years but more sooner than later its effects will be felt by the regular mobile phone user who is all set to enjoy the best of both worlds.