Making a welcome return to Barcelona, Mobile World Congress in its wisdom decided to ditch Hall 8 and 8.1 – the halls focussed on VAS, DCB and messaging – and do what it does best: be a massive opportunity for the cartel of operators and equipment makers to bask in their own brilliance, lighting metaphorical cigars with €50 notes.
Well, that is what I imagine happened at the Fira, I wasn’t there. I was at the Telemedia 8.1 LIVE event across town where the focus was very much on VAS, DCB and messaging – that was where the real value was.
While there were meetings and networking aplenty across the two days, day one very much devoted itself to messaging. And what a time for the GSMA to ditch its coverage. Rich messaging is on its way to becoming a trillion dollar industry, as it starts to become something more than just A2P text – there is an excellent and growing market for that – and transforming into something much deeper, more engageing and useful than anyone has ever really given it credit for. In fact, according to Nick Millward from Kaleyra, rich messaging is now something more akin to social media than SMS. It is, now something that is two-way and engaging and, with the addition of shoppable content (powered by DCB!) it is also much more useful.
This is why there is now so much interest in RCS, WhatsApp, iMessage and whatever else is out there in different regions. It is also why there is so much focus too on CPaaS.
What came through loud and clear at 8.1 LIVE was that MNOs need to rethink how they sell messaging – and how its priced. Speaker after speaker at the ‘Making messaging a trillion dollar industry’ conference track put together by Mobilesquared iterated how messaging now needs to be sold not as a commodity, but priced on its value.
According to Ira Cohen from MMDSmart, the industry has to stop thinking about messaging in terms of the pricing and business model given by the MNOs and look at how to charge based on its value and the return it can bring to organisations based on how they use it.
With messaging becoming ever-more rich, it is going to find itself being used in a raft of new ways and charging fractions of pence per message isn’t really going to cut it. Instead, Cohen and others aver, the model needs to very much more align with what the enterprise or brand wants to do with the messages and what they are looking to generate in return. This will make it chargeable as a value proposition not just as a commodity.
With messaging becoming something more akin to a social media interaction for brands and consumers this makes sense. It also chimes with the shift towards buying in ‘messaging and interaction’ through third-party, publicly-hosted CPaaS platforms.
CPaaS is going to drive how messaging is used and it too could be the lever needed to see message pricing shift to one based on value. Time will tell.
The way messaging is used is shifting and that needs to be reflected in how it is charged for. For example, kids today are sending voice messages to one another across OTT messaging platforms such as iMessage and WhatsApp. This is going to become part of the whole CPaaS messaging offer and will, in time, become a mainstay of messaging: how is that going to be priced?
Addressing these issues is going to be key for the industry. Part of the reason why messaging – and Hall 8.1 – were dropped from MWC is because messaging only makes up 2-4% of MNO revenues. To them it is very small beer.
But it won’t be. Like mobile marketing and advertising 10-15 years ago, it is nascent but poised to explode. That explosion will see it become a multi-billion dollar industry before the decade is done. MNOs may be ignoring it now, but that just gives the telemedia industry all the more time and incentive to capitalise on it. Let’s see where we are with 8.12LIVE in 2023 – and whether we are within or without the Fira and if I am lighting my Cigar with a banknote.