Messaging Blues

The Magic of Messaging: This blog contains stuff related to E-Mail, SMS,Text Messaging, Instant messaging, MMS etc (Mobile/Internet/Wireless/Text/IM)

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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

3GSM: International operators push global Mobile IM service

3GSM World Congress, Barcelona:

Several of the globe's largest operators are pushing initiatives to make instant messaging as pervasive as SMS. Vodafone, China Mobile, Telefonica Moviles, Orange and T-Mobile International are part of 15 operators trying to create a parallel value stream to their lucrative SMS businesses. Unlike text messaging, mobile IM offers a familiar messaging platform because it's commonly used on PCs. In addition, mobile IM allows users to manage a list of contacts, check their availability online and send one message to groups of users. Operators believe customers will be willing to pay for these features in a mobile environment, even though IM is free on PC connections.

The group also hopes to cooperate with Internet-based IM service providers , such as America Online, Microsoft's MSN, and Yahoo, according to Arun Sarin, Vodafone's chief executive officer. "We want to extend this service and make it a bigger experience for users," he said.

AOL, Microsoft, and Yahoo already provide wireless access to their IM services, but this initiative's goal is to extend the availability and interoperability of wireless IM globally. AIM, AOL, MSN Messenger, and Yahoo Messenger don't interoperate, though Yahoo and Microsoft are working to build links between their services.

In the first phase, the mobile operators aim to extend IM--a widely popular service among PC users in the fixed-line telecommunications market--to their combined customer base of 700 million users. Over the coming months, they expect other GSM operators to join the initiative, representing a potential global market of more than 2.2 billion people.

On the Internet, more than 300 million people around the world use IM, and around 12 billion messages are sent every day, according to the GSMA.

Unlike the free IM service available on fixed-line networks, however, the IM service planned by the GSM community will cost money, with the calling party picking up the tab.

A key requirement for providing an IM service to mobile phone users is interoperability, to ensure that messages can be sent across networks around the world, said Sanjiv Ahuja, CEO of European carrier Orange. Operators within the GSM community have agreed to IM interoperability standards, he said.

Most high-end smart phones and many low-end phones are already IM-enabled, according to Orange's Ahuja. He expects IM to become a standard feature of GSM phones moving ahead.

The operators expect to begin rolling out IM services over the next several months.

It is good sign interms of IM convergence. We need to wait for few months to see it in practical use.