How Mobile Messaging is Changing the Wireless Industry

Mobile messaging services such as Voxer, Whatsapp and IMO are certainly already huge industries and are some of the fastest growing in the world. Are we seeing the dawn of the next Facebook or Skype? George Harik and Tom Katis of IMO and Voxer, respectively, sat down recently with Bloomberg TV to discuss the future of the wireless industry and how mobile messaging will and already is affecting it.

Over-the-top services

According to Tom Katis, his app Voxer, which offers push to talk services as well as text and photo/video sending, keeps its users occupied for a combined average of half hour to an hour a day.

Clearly, users of these apps—or over the top services, as Katis calls them—use them heavily, which is a good thing for any product, especially a product that’s a part of the $100-billion-a-year app industry.

But what is so special about these over the top services? Skype has been doing this type of video/audio/text communication for years. The difference is simply that companies like Voxer and IMO have taken the concept of Skype and adapted it to mobile devices.

Smart phones

Mobile devices are now seen as telephones with internet capabilities—mini-computers. But Katis believes this is the wrong way to view smart phones.

He and George Harik agree that mobile devices should have the same capabilities as home computers and laptops, such as SMS text messaging, storing phone numbers, making phone calls and access to the Internet.

With their apps, Harik and Katis say they can offer everything a desktop computer has through your mobile device but with more services than standard smart phones already offer. Mobile companies worry that these apps will affect the messaging and calling plans that they themselves offer, but Harik says that these apps offer great add-ons for carriers.

In this way, a symbiotic relationship is formed because app developers need carriers to distribute their products, while carriers need apps to create increased awareness. Katis agrees that carriers are necessary to get data out there. However, carriers worry that they will lose services to these apps and become “dumb pipes,” only used as a medium to offer services such as Whatsapp and IMO.

A new age

Data revenue has exploded over the past few years, and Katis and Harik believe that soon, carriers will simply charge a flat rate for a data plan instead of offering separate rates for data, SMS and phone calls.

As Katis states, smart phones are mobile computers. The quicker phone providers embrace apps like those offered by Katis’ and Harik’s, the easier it will be for them to avoid becoming obsolete.

Obviously we are seeing the dawn of a new age in mobile devices and how they’re being used. Tom Katis and George Harik may be at the forefront of that age. Watch the full interview with Bloomberg TV.

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