The battle is heating up again in the race to control mobile messaging. Several pure players have build a community in the past (Like Whatsapp, Kik, TextOne), but large internet players now want to be sure they control this communication channel very closely. This is a very addictive channel on which users tend to connect every day to share messages with their friends.
This niche was build on two drawback of SMS:
- It was initially a per message cost, while users were expecting a predictable flat fee (Operators tried to fight back with unlimited SMS offering).
- It can do group messaging and allow sharing rich media.
Those limitations allowed small niche players to build profitable community. However, the internet giant will use their network effect to try getting up to speed in that sector. iMessage even disguise as a mix of SMS and messaging app, transparently routing the messages through Apple infrastructure when possible.
This is becoming a bigger thread to operators. In Europe, they try to fight back with the RCS-e GSMA standard (Operators fight back against free messages – Financial Times). The protocol has the drawback of being extremely complex and not very internet like, with the advantage of being promoted by carriers and integrated directly into the mobile network service stack.
Until the services get fully interoperable and federated, it can only be profitable to existing players that can already leverage their existing user base.
Credits: Drew Olanoff