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EDITOR’S BLOG 090317 Seeking out the next generation of telemedia at MWC17

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Last week’s Mobile World Congress (MWC17) had to be the biggest yet – and all 100,000+ delegates bumped in to me at some point or another, I am sure. But aside from getting busier year on year, the show has changed over the past couple of years in some drastic ways.

Where once it was the preserve of the network operators, the heavy network kit providers and, increasingly, the app/start up/ entertainment companies this year you could be mistaken for thinking that you were at The Motorshow or, if you turned and faced the other way, a medical equipment junket.

These days the future of “big mobile” lies with connected everything, starting with cars and street furniture and helping sharp-spooned surgeons remove spleens from afar. All this of course hinges around 5G technology and ‘slicing’, apparently, and I have to say looks very impressive and fast. Doubly impressive as I watched the spinning wheel of death on my iPhone as I tried to receive emails, iMessages and largely do anything online any where in Barcelona last week with an over-crowded 4G network.

But I digress. While I was sitting in lovely web-enabled Jags, or watching how my internal organs could be harvested by a doctor in China over the network, I pondered what was in all this for telemedia companies? And luckily I found plenty.

The biggest thing that all this future-gazing delivers is the ability for new services and crazy things to be done over the mobile web and between things that aren’t today considered phones. This means that there is always going to be plenty of opportunity for telemedia players to do what they do best and find new ways to monetise new things.

Whether carrier billing has a role to play in the connected car is for sharper minds than mine to divine, but with the car now talking to lamp posts and bus stops looking to offer the ability to play games or watch adverts targeted at you, the individual, then you’d think there is going to be an opportunity somewhere.

But what struck me as perhaps the most interesting thing there was rich communications systems (RCS) – which is to all intents and purposes an much needed upgrade of SMS. With consumers showing no signs of slowing their use of messaging (and by that I also mean iMessage, WhatsApp et al for the sake of argument), the need to make it richer and better has never been stronger.

In the GSMA’s own Innovation City in Hall 4 I was treated to an array of RCS-based demos of everything from Virgin Trains using it to get customers in the mood for their impending journey (and no that doesn’t involve the message turning up an hour late and without a buffet car), queue busting on the platform and generally being all engaging, to Walgreens showcasing how you can use it to take a photo and get it printed out and collect it.

I also witnessed how with the combination of graphics, photos, chat bots and words you can do almost anything these days with messaging. It has a bright rich future.

And in this one can’t help but see that telemedia companies need to start thinking about how they can start to exploit this new richness by adapting what they have always done with text to this new messaging world.

The beginnings of this could be seen by the launch by Openwave Mobility of the industry’s first generic NFV-based application monetization solution to allow operators to start to monetise OTT services more effectively.

Elsewhere, DIMOCO used the show to unveil its Future of Digital payments report, which presents the primary factors shaping industry growth and assessing the opportunities presented by emerging payment mechanisms, including carrier billing, credit and debit cards, SEPA direct debit and SEPA credit transfers. Insights also include a series of recommendations for current and prospective players across the payments value chain.

And of course the highlight for everyone this year was the reboot of the Nokia 3310. My Dad still has his original 3310 in working order, Hipsters beware: you may not be as cool as you think (you certainly won’t be as cool as my Dad).

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Editor and content creator for Telemedia – for 18 years and counting

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