William Dudley

New Trends in Messaging

Posted by William Dudley Mar 25, 2011

As we’ve recently finished another round of the  Austin, Texas based South By Southwest (SXSW) extravaganza, there has been a great deal of media attention to a number of “new” alternative messaging providers:  Kik, Beluga (recently acquired by Facebook), Fast Society, GroupMe, What’s App, TEXTme, and Ping Chat to name a few.   There are so many, I’m starting to lose track. 

 

You’ve all heard me discuss NUVOs – the Network Unaffiliated Virtual Operators, AKA Over-The-Top (OTT) service providers.  However, I think now, with all of the recent publicity about these alternatives to SMS messaging (and MMS as well), we need to take a step back and try to understand just want is the difference between this crop and the more established NUVOs including MediaFriends’ HeyWire, Pinger’s TextFree, Gogii’s TextPlus, Google Voice and Toktumi Line 2.  There are several distinct differences and some may determine whether these companies ultimately succeed or fall by the wayside.

 

Telephone Numbers

This is by far, the biggest differentiator that the true “NUVOs” offer.  Without Telephone Numbers, the messaging service, no matter how brilliant, cannot interoperate or interact with the largest, most comprehensive social network or all – the 4.5+ billion SMS users around the world.  This is a key differentiator of HeyWire, TextFree, Google Voice, TextPlus and Line2 – they all assign TNs to their subscribers. 

 

Many of the newer one’s, without assigning telephone numbers, call themselves “texting” applications – true you enter text and can send messages to other subscribers of the same service – but to anyone with a mobile device?  This is not possible, today.   Conversely, how can someone with a messaging application, but not on the same service reach out to someone within another group?  Again this is not possible, unless both utilize telephone numbers as a global addressing standard.

 

This is why we have international standards.  Today, a TextFree subscriber can send and receive messages from a Google Voice subscriber or a HeyWire subscriber just as easy as they can exchange messages with a mobile network operator (MNO) such as Verizon or T-Mobile or Vodafone.  The common addressing mechanism?  Telephone numbers.  International standard telephone numbers.  Until there is an international and interoperable addressing mechanism that is backward compatible with the E.164 telephone number, there will not be such a global community of the scale to today’s world telecom ecosystem.

 

Interoperability

In the early days of SMS, one of the single factors that helped SMS reach the heights of ubiquity that it enjoys today was interoperability among different operators.  These newer “texting” applications do not enjoy that same benefit.  Consequently, all they have created are disparate islands.  While I wish all of them the best of successes, I do worry that, at some point, their business model may collapse, as they ignore the benefits of becoming interoperable with other services.  Perhaps some will gain enough subscribers and momentum to become a viral and disruptive technology.  Certainly, the micro-blogging service, Twitter has done that.  But, then Twitter is not a Person to Person communications medium, like texting is.

 

Innovation

What truly amazes me is the significant amount of innovation coming from the NUVOs.   They all have significant differentiators – in fact, if you look at each one individually, you’ll see features and capabilities that you wish you had on whatever service that you have chosen to use.  One significant feature that most are implementing in unique ways is the ability to create and label groups or communities within their ecosystem and some extending to others (again, via the use of phone numbers).   When a group member sends a message to others in the group, all group members will receive the message.  Group administrators as well as members can control how messages are received.  GroupMe assigns Telephone Numbers to groups, so individuals with other numbers (or on other services) can access groups via the a specific TN.   You can try them out and see for yourself how each are differentiated.  Some true NUVOs are messaging-only (HeyWire, TextPlus) ; others are messaging and voice (TextFree, Line2, Google Voice).

 

Facebook and Beluga

Now let’s circle back to the non-TN, OTT players.  I don’t call them “NUVOs” as they don’t quite fit what I consider the “classic definition.”   Facebook made a easy move towards this space when they acquired tiny Beluga – a pure Group Messaging player.  But Beluga has not been using TNs for their subscribers.  Furthermore, Facebook has made several statements as to how "relatively soon, we'll probably all stop using arbitrary 10-digit numbers and bizarre sequences of characters to contact each other. We will just select friends by name and be able to share with them instantly." As noted in a previous blog (and article in Network World), I think that is going to be a tough sell.   It still remains to be seen what Facebook will do with Beluga, but this industry will be watching closely.  Facebook Chat does not have a strong “group chat” capability, so I do presume that is where they will focus Beluga’s technology.  As to “taking aim at the messaging cartel,” I’m not sure that Beluga was the optimal choice to incorporate that would give them that “power.”  Still 500 million subscribers is nothing to sneeze at and they continue to grow in both subscribers and influence.  

 

Future Directions

Don’t count out the incumbent Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) by any stretch of the imagination.  While NUVOs are innovative and growing in influence and reach, they are still relatively small.  After all, 5 billion global subscribers aren’t all of the sudden going to stop using SMS, MMS, and their own MNO’s voice services.  MNOs have a long history of innovation, themselves.  They got us to where we are today, making it completely possible for NUVOs and other potentially disruptive technology to exist.  I would even venture to say that powerhouses like Facebook would not be where they are today, were it not for the global MNO community.   As we have just completed the 2011, spring CTIA trade show in Orlando, SXSW, and Mobile World Congress, there is plenty going on – not withstanding, the potential upheaval in the US market in the next 12-18 months.  The NUVOs are still primarily a North American Numbering Plan phenomenon.  They have done a great deal to help messaging grow, as they are greatly expanding the “universe” of devices that support P2P communications such as messaging and voice.  MNOs know this and are and will continue to be watching how they can partner with and leverage these innovations to retain and grow subscribers as well as protect and grow ARPUs. In fact, this type of MNO and NUVO partnering is now happening.  Sprint and Google Voice announced at CTIA that Sprint subscribers may use their mobile TN as their Google Voice numberThis is absolutely HUGE and shows just how an independent NUVO can easily partner with an established MNO.  A brillant and brave move for Sprint and one that will likely pay off, well.

 

During this year, it is likely that NUVOs will begin to pop up in other countries, witin those countries numbering plans.  Furthermore, you may see partnerships between NUVOs, ISPs, and new generation IP network providers.    Stay tuned and watch closely, because this part of the industry does and will change rapidly.

Dan Ortega is Sr. Director of Product Marketing and Product Management for Sybase, an SAP Company, and an expert in mobile strategies for the enterprise.

Dan Ortega 

The SAP Mobility Insights Webcast Series is designed to orchestrate a conversation that addresses questions from SAP’s customers and community about our strategic direction for 2011. Beyond this foundational webcast, subsequent webcasts will address topics such as designing a mobile strategy for your company, mobile solutions from SAP and its partners, the Sybase Unwired Platform, device management - plus share customer successes.

Dan is leading the first webcast in this series: Unwiring Your Enterprise with SAP - Mobile Strategy, Trends and Lessons Learned. In this blog, I interview Dan to get a preview of how this webcast will address fundamental questions posed by our customers and partners.

Gail: Dan, How long have you been with Sybase?

Dan: I’ve been with Sybase 10 months, although I have spent my career in the mobility domain in product marketing and product management, going back over 20 years.

Gail: What can customers and partners expect to learn from you about SAP’s mobile strategy during the webcast? What are the highlights?

Dan: The core message here is 1) why is mobility not just important, but critical, 2) why is it critical now, and 3) why is Sybase/SAP the best choice when looking at the transformational possibilities that mobility can offer.

Gail: What has the synergy between SAP and Sybase delivered to customers that enables them to mobile their processes and workforces more effectively than was possible with the 2 companies simply working as partners?

Dan: We have much tighter integration now between development, product management, and product marketing groups. We have a common customer perspective; we have a common competitive framework. There are simply better efficiencies of execution now that the two companies are not just aligned, but fully integrated from an operational point of view.

Gail: Companies have been employing mobile strategies - extending key processes and mobilizing their sales and field service teams for nearly a decade. What new market trends are forcing companies to update, upgrade and expand their previous plans?

Dan: The market shift we’re looking at is driven by a combination of 1) a critical mass of users; globally we now have over 6 billion mobile devices in place, over 4 billion mobile users, and over 1 billion mobile workers, 2) we have a significant increase in  bandwidth, which allows more robust interaction with on-line resources, 3) we have a significant improvement in the end-user experience with the rise of smart phones and tablets—which has also led to higher user expectations, 4) we also have a vast movement of our culture onto an on-line paradigm, best example?  Facebook. 500 million users putting their entire lives in minute detail on line, that’s more than the combined population of the US and Canada, more than the entire population of Europe. And that’s just one example, the list goes on and on, but you get the picture.

Gail: What should be the enterprise mobility strategy for customers, partners and developers looking to invest into mobility?*

Dan: The strategy begins with envisioning mobility in your enterprise. What do your workers do now, while sitting at their desks, and how can mobilizing them make them more effective? What happens when that efficiency is extended to workgroups, and to the workflows they support? Try to envision where you want to go and what are realistic expectations of this transformational shift. Think about access and security. You’ll soon have all your employees accessing everything you have while they’re on the move. How do you secure all these different devices, as well as the applications that are either on the device, or being accessed through a back-end system? What are your governance policies in terms of who has access to what, and how do you plan to implement changes as you operational requirements evolve? There is a tremendous amount of detail that needs to be thought through, but it all starts with the vision.

Gail: What is the strategy behind the prioritization of the release of additional mobile solutions for our customers – what solutions on the roadmap that you can disclose?

Dan:  We are looking for the maximum impact across the broadest spectrum of use. So one example would be the introduction of mobile Business Intelligence applications. This is the type of application that crosses all industry lines, and nearly all functions within any given company. This is an example of the next level of mobility beyond the earlier extension paradigm we saw with e-mail, this is the start of the transformation phase of mobility, where workers and workgroups can begin gaining vast efficiencies of scale in their day to day work.

Gail: How has the proliferation of mobile devices, e.g. beyond smartphones to iPads – beyond iPhones to phones operating on the Android operating system – had on the complexity of implementing a mobile strategy for our customers?

Dan: On the customer side it’s become much more complex. Not difficult, but complex. We are no longer in a monolithic model (that is, Blackberry-centric), and consumer/employees now have a much wider range of choices when it comes to mobile access to enterprise applications. The key requirement is that IT be able to support their users regardless of the device; iOS, Blackberry, Android, etc. This is where a flexible and robust mobile device and applications management solution comes into play, and this is one of our core competencies. By using the Sybase/SAP framework for mobility, IT is now in a position to become an enabler and driver of mobility, rather than being the guys who historically always said no.

Gail: Any parting thought before the webcast 2 weeks from now?

Dan: Yes. Mobility is the new framework for accessing information, and there is no going back. Enterprises HAVE to mobilize, and they have to do it now. If you don’t, and your competitors do, you will fall so far behind you will never catch up. On the other hand, if you move now and your competitors don’t, you’ve just gained a huge advantage. What would you like to do?

Thanks for that preview Dan. I am intrigued and eager to hear more on the 29th.  Please join Dan, Andrew Borg of Aberdeen and Praveen Gautam and Kathy Murino of Tellabs for this seminal webcast.

REGISTER NOW

Mobile World of SAP, intro

iPhone Android Blackberry

During the past months I have been following the debate between Android and Apple fans. Each side considers its own device a better performer than the other, but what is the reality?

Market share

Market share

iOS and Android combined own more than the 50% of the market share and on January 2011 Android overtook iOS in the US market.

The Android’s growth rate, described in the chart above, has been consistent throughout 2010: shares rose in value by 20% in a year.

RIM definitely lost the battle. It's  market share decreased more than 10% in the US between October 2009 and December 2010. To recover the loss, BlackBerry is implementing the introduction of BlackBerry Messenger as an application compatible with iPhone and Android devices.

Growth rate

Apple growth

During Apple's September 2010 event, Steve Jobs announced an iOS activationrate of 230,000 devices per day. We must consider that at that time, Verizon hadn’t released the iPhone 4 (presented on January 2011), that iPad sales for the 3rd quarter were successful and finally, that the iPad2 would be available in the U.S. starting 17 March 2011.

Android is gaining more and more of the market. Over 350,000 Android devices are activated on a daily basis and most of the major mobile vendors provide at least one device with the Android system. The below videos show the Android’s performance over the last two years and a forecast of its growth rate.

And the others?

As said above, RIM is losing market every month, the new Blackberry Playbook could give a power-up even if the first feedbacks are not positive. Symbian and MeeGo are the Nokia OS for Mobile and both seems to be through. As a matter of fact Nokia has made an agreement with Microsoft in order to use its Mobile OS. Windows Mobile 7 devices came to the market only at the end of 2010. Microsoft is moving fast in the development of Windows Mobile 8 (aka Windows Next) that should be more focused on the tablet devices. I don't believe that it will succeed since it will arrive too late in the field. I also suppose that Microsoft, in order to increase its volume in selling, will be ending some unfavorable supplier agreements.

User experience

I tested both the iOS and Android devices and would say that both are user friendly, the gesture is consolidated to the users. In my opinion, however, Apple iOS is at a slight advantage. I have noticed that the majority of people, even those not accustomed to technology, are more comfortable using Apple.

Apple Pro

  • All the apps have the same basic interface and functionalities (sliding down to update a list, navigation bar located at the top, and so on). These features lessen the learning curve and allow consumers to quickly get accustomed to them.
  • Folders improve the efficiency of the SW allowing the consumer to organize his or her own applications and to retrieve them easily.

Android Pro

  • Widgets are very confortable. They show the majority of the information that the user needs on one screen, without having to open several applications.
  • Notifications are shown in the status bar and are always accessible until someone reads or deletes them. iOS notifications are pop-ups that disappear once an action is completed, after which they are no longer accessible.

Android Market vs Apple Store


Android MarketApple Store
Applications1 130.000300.000
Application free1100.000150.000
Application designed for tablet110065.000
Countries (free distribution)146 (only 14)90 (all)
Developers118.00077.000
Application size limit150MB2GB
Developer fee$25 one-off$90/yr.

1December 2010

The Apple Store is objectively bigger and wider than Android Market. If we focus on the number of developers involved and on the ratio of free applications to the total number (Apple 50%; Android 77%) we see that the majority of Android’s developers are publishing their apps for free. This evidence shows that professional developers and well known SW houses do not consider Android Market a profitable business to invest in. In addition Android Market's the size limit on Application prohibits applications that are best seller in the Apple Store from being converted.

One of the biggest advantages of Android Market is the immediate availability of the app after its launch. It is also true that Android is not a moderated market and that many apps do not respect copyright creating laws, which sets a wrong bad precedent and creates confsion for the users. A few days ago, Google said that it had removed more than 50 apps containing malware. This is impossible in the Apple Store because every application must be validated before being available on the market.

Updates

Comparing iOS and Android updating systems:

iOS and devices (iPhone, iPod, iPad) are both managed by Apple and when an update of OS is released, the device receives it, only with iOS 4.3, Apple drops iPhone 3G support.

What does this mean? Apple users are always up to date; as soon as Apple releases an update, iTunes notifies the user of its availability and suggests implementation of the SW. Android users have to wait until the vendor releases the firmware for the device and most of the time, the wait is vanish.

I have an HTC Hero GSM (released on July 2009) and an iPhone 3GS (released on June 2009).

After a few months, Hero had already become an old device, even if it at the time had been publicized as the best in the market. HTC unofficially stopped supporting Hero and after receiving pressures from customers, released the first update a year later, jumping directly from Android 1.5 to Android 2.1. After a few weeks, Google launched Android 2.2 rendering it impossible for possessors of the old device to update the firmware and utilize most of the apps on the market.

In comparison iPhone is current up to the latest version of iOS, 4.3, and 99% of the apps are compatible with this device.

This lack of support affects not only the application but also the security. On January 2010, an exploit caused problems in all Android releases from 1.5 to 2.1. In an announcement, Google confirmed: "Google has now got to the bottom of the problem and is working on a patch, which is currently undergoing evaluation. This will not, however, find its way into Android 2.3 (Gingerbread), the release of which is imminent. It is instead expected to be included in a future update and it could be some time before it finds its way onto many users' phones.", what happens to users with an old device? Will they ever receive a security patch?

At the root of this inadequate support from Android’s vendors there is the fact that Apple profits from the selling of devices and applications on the Store. Google, on the other hand, profits from the market: its vendors gain from selling new devices rather than supporting old ones.

Developer view

As a developer, I have noted significant differences between the contenders.

The Android device market is really varied. According the latest analyses, 60% of devices are officially updated to Froyo (2.2) and only 10% to Gingerbread (2.3); this means that 30% of users are running old releases. Android devices also show consistent hardware differences in the RAM, processor, screen size, camera and so on.

In the past, I have spent 70% of my efforts on making my applications compatible with the majority of devices. In a recent article, Gameloft (leader in mobile games) affirmed that "many games would never adapt to all Android devices". The concept behind “adapting” is that each device requires a rework.

The Apple iOS market is homogeneous and all the devices are running the latest iOS release. This point should be taken in consideration when a customer requests a mobile development; the programmer should identify the devices and the OSs that he or she want to support. If the choice is  Apple, he or she should cover the entire market. If the choice is Android, he or she should reach a compromise.

Over the past months, cross platform applications have been taking to the stage. These are created using frameworks (i.e. PhoneGap, Appcelerator and jQuery Mobile) that allow the development of one application and its execution everywhere. This is not completely true. Tony Lukasavage in a recent blog post analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of these frameworks considering all of them far from being the new Eldorado. It is really hard to understand the best approach: native or non native application?

An interesting Podcast With No Name (yet) – a chat amongst SAP peers created by some SAP Mentors gives an overview of the current status of the mobile development platforms.

Working in Techedge. which is a certified partner of SAP and Sybase, and being grateful to Luca Grilli, who is leading the Mobile Practice, I can confirm that SAP Unwired Platform (SUP) is a valid compromise. The platform creates a single project and generates native applications for several devices (Apple, RIM, Windows Mobile; new one should arrive till the end of 2011), that can be enhanced using the device programming language.

Tablet

Particular consideration must be given to tablets. 2011 is the year of tablets; during his last event, Steve Jobs affirmed that this is the year of iPad2. Most of Apple's new competitors are also ready to release their products by the end of 1st quarter of 2011.

Within tablets the game is over. The iPad2 wins versus all competitors because it collects the best from all the others: outstanding hardware and a huge number of specific applications. Apple’s commercial strategy delivered a strong punch to the others by maintaining the old prices. Now the competitors need to change their plans in order to make a return on their investments. I consider Motorola Xoom the best option, even if recent benchmarks underline that the gap between the two devices is considerable.

GPU performace CPU performance

Below a comparison between iPad’s “enemies” (it is possible to understand even if you don’t know Italian)

Tablets

Legenda:

OS: Operative systemS: displayA: number of applications R: Display resolution
DP: dimension and weight: PriceV: camera U: expected availability

 

Conclusions

Competition between Apple and Google generates advantages to end-users. In the last two years, Mobile devices have found a place in people's daily lives and have become something that they cannot live without. Customers are also starting to evaluate mobile business and to imagine a contexts in which the mobile could increase their profits.

Apple is still the leader and other companies are trying to reach its level. To achieve the standard is relative concept and it is not yet definable what this would be since the market is dynamic and may at any time propose new challenges to engage and overcome.

I expect that Google will consider adopting an official device to directly support (as attempted with the Nexus One); only after this decision would I consider Android to be a worthy competitor to Apple, otherwise it will remain a powerful toy.

Thanks to Sergio Ferrari (@SergioFerrari) and Luca Grilli (@lucagrilli) for their support; on the Edge, always!

Main References

William Dudley

It Bears Repeating ...

Posted by William Dudley Mar 11, 2011

Last March, I published a blog entry titled: SMS may be the Only Reliable Communications Channel During Significant Events.  That explained why SMS usage was encouraged when there were few other possibilities for people to reach out to others after the strong Chile earthquake on the 27th of February, 2010.  Based on the events of this year, alone, that message bears repeating again:

 

When mobile communications channels are not completely destroyed or disrupted, SMS is a very reliable method of communicating.

 

In fact, after the recent New Zealand earthquake on the 22nd February, earlier this year, there were notices from authorities through a variety of media types, including Twitter stating: 

#Earthquake: Keep cellphone calls short, or use SMS - #New Zealand…

Sybase is in a unique position, as it is able to track SMS traffic trends around the world.  The devastating earthquake in Japan, today struck at 14:46 JST.  International SMS traffic peaked in the 16:00 hour and has continue to remain at much higher than normal levels.

Japan - 03.11.2011 Earthquake SMS Traffic

 

Last month’s New Zealand earthquake showed similar results and the traffic stayed at higher than normal levels for several days, until the situation was more stabilized.

 

New Zealand 02.22.2011 Earthquake SMS Traffic

 

Of course, through this year, we have seen numerous ups and downs of SMS service in Egypt, during the initial protests, with Internet and international SMS disrupted, to see it restored and the huge surge of texts, when it was announced that Mubarek had resigned.  Libya has also seen its share of SMS disruptions that continue, for a variety of reasons, to this day.  The ubiquity and strong penetration of SMS users also makes this medium a target for disruption in certain situations.

 

Despite all that we have, worldwide, now:  Social Networks, Twitter, Online and Mobile media, various chat groups and IM services, it is still SMS that people continue turn to.

 

Reminder:  You can text REDCROSS to 90999 in the United States to donate to the Japanese relief effort.

This year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona topped attendance records with over 60,000 participants.  In my opinion, this mega-trade (8 FILLED halls) show keeps getting better and better and this year continued to reset expectations.  We found our stand traffic extremely active, with several very nice prospects visiting us, unannounced.  Of course, as we had almost 100 meetings scheduled, we were a busy bunch.  I believe we even closed some business, here.

This year, general themes were mobile broadband, specifically LTE deployments and technology, Android Apps and ecosystem, new handsets and tablets, and mobile payment solutions.

 

Samsung's Mega-Stand - Mobile World Congress 2011

Handset vendors were still the biggest advertisers and booth builders, with none larger than Samsung’s Galaxy S II .  The S II is certainly to be one of the premier Android handsets of 2011, supporting a 4.3” Super AMOLED display, support for HSPA+ up to 21Mbps (some carriers will call this “4G”), with many more unique features such as an 8 megapixel camera with LED flash, full 1080p HD recording & playback, voice recognition and translation and a “Social Hub.”  The Social Hub enables users to organize and synchronize all contacts and services such as SMS, IM, and social networks (Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, etc) into a one unified box.    The unified in-box concept is not new – Facebook has incorporated it as are several NUVOs providing similar unified messaging / IM / chat concepts as well.  Of course, like many other handsets being introduced, the Galaxy S II includes Near Field Communications (NFC).  The Galaxy S II also contains on-board device management, courtesy of Sybase Afaria as one of its many Enterprise-class feature sets that will likely make this phone quite useful in business ecosystems.

 

Android was everywhere and the hot collectible were 86 of these Android pins. I’m not sure I know anyone that really got more than one or two.  Still, a very nice marketing concept!

 

Not to be outdone, LG Electronics was demonstrating their new 3D (yes, that's three dimensions, not 3rd generation) mobile device called the Optimus 3D .   This Android handset enables you to record, share and view 3D video without the use of glasses.  I saw this and wasn’t particularly impressed, although, video shot with this handset, displayed on the 3D compatible television monitor, looked much better.  I guess it will have its niche market and its fans.  Not sure if 3D mobile handsets will catch on too much at this point.

 

Like the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the MWC was also a show of tablets.   Most were various versions of Android and ranged from well known tablets expected from Samsung, and LG as well as ViewSonic, Huawei, Acer, Motorola  (Xoom), HTC and Toshiba.  Frankly, given that they are all Android-based and that many of them use different versions of Android, ranging from Version 2.3 to 3.0, what will that do to app compatibility?   Hopefully, the Android Tablet market will quickly converge on Android 3.0 “Honeycomb.”   When I saw RIM Playbook, it seemed like a nice little tablet; however, colleagues noted to me that they saw it crash and it seemed rather “sluggish” in its performance. 

 

I would like to note that, despite all of the recent tablet launches at CES and MWC, Apple’s upcoming iPAD 2 introduction still seems to generate more twitter and news buzz, than all of them put together.

 

I attended an RCS (Rich Communications Suite – a GSMA initiative ) presentation where operator groups consisting of Deutsche Telecom, Orange, Telecom Italia, Telefonica, and Vodafone all announced that they were launching RCS services in 2011 to 2012 in several European markets.   RCS enables subscribers to use IM, share live video and share files such as photos simultaneously, during calls, regardless of network or device.   RCS also enables an active address book.  Subscribers will be able to see the services available to him by contact name.  This core group of operators is working with various handset OEMs to ensure that the service is integrated in address books.  I would still suppose that we’ll see 3rd party smartphone applications that support an RCS address book and functionality, in lieu of this capability being built into the OEM devices.   I am hopeful that RCS will see some commercial success and uptake by these core operators.   RCS is what the now-defunct GSMA Personal Instant Messaging (PIM) initiative morphed into.  PIM was not successful, in that it simply created another closed IM community to compete with the too-many, non interoperable ones, already in place. 

 

MWC 2011 018

SK Telecom has launched a nice RCS video calling service they market as “HD Videocall.”  This enables subscribers with Android devices to launch video from voice calls, launch video calls directly from the app, share contacts, launch a sketch book with the video and share files.  Subscribers can also share their locations with friends.  I saw an impressive demonstration of this service.  Sadly, it is only available within SK Telecom at the moment, but the engineer I spoke to said he was hopeful that it could interoperate with other Korean operators in the future (no time frame given).   RCS is a technology, if treated right by the operators and 3rd party application and client providers, could provide a needed boost to MNO services like mobile messaging did and still does.

 

Another interesting demonstration that I saw, was Verizon’s Voice over LTE  .  Verizon actually set up a small LTE radio network within the show confines for the demos.  VoLTE should be a higher quality voice service and will roll-out into production sometime in 2012.  The demo that I attended was indeed a very high quality voice call and was quite impressive, considering the heavy background noise of Hall 8.  I believe that high-definition voice calls will be coming to a network near us all, soon.  Certainly, LTE has enough bandwidth to ultimately replace Circuit-Switched voice, but this won’t be for years.   I think that VoLTE has IPX voice transport written all over it. 

 

Finally, in 2012, Barcelona will host the Mobile World Congress for, what could be, the last time.  The GSMA is in the process of selecting a potential new location for the 2013-2018 MWC .  The finalists are Paris, Munich, Milan and Barcelona for another 5 years.  For me, I am hoping for Barcelona for another 5  years.  This city really pulls out all of the stops for the MWC and it is certainly good business for Spain and Barcelona.  They do a great job.

 

And after at least 3 years, no one still knows what CBOSS does.

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