|Asia-Pacific III 2008
|Mobile voice messaging
|Dr Inderpal Singh Mumick
|CEO and co-founder
&TDr Inderpal Singh Mumick is a Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO of Kirusa. A serial entrepreneur, Dr Mumick previously co-founded Savera Systems, where he was the CEO and the CTO. Before Savera, Dr Mumick was a Principal Technical Staff Member at AT Laboratories, A member of the technical staff at AT&T Bell Laboratories, and a Research Student Associate at the IBM Almaden Research Center, Dr Mumick is the author of eighteen patents, over ten patent pending applications, and over 40 technical papers in leading journals and conferences, the co-editor of a book on Materialized Views, a frequent speaker at conferences and trade shows around the world, and has articles featured in European Communications, Silicon India, and The Hindustan Times. Voice & Data recognized him as one of the top 50 in India’s Telecom Diaspora. Dr Mumick received a Bachelor of Technology in Computer Science and Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, where he was awarded the President’s Gold Medal, and a PhD in Computer Science from Stanford University. He completed Mini MBAs in Finance and General Management from the AT&T School of Business and an Executive MBA for Growing Companies from Stanford University. Dr Mumick is listed in various Who’s Who publications.
Mobile services are rapidly advancing beyond just voice and SMS; a great number of value-added services are now available, including games, news, Internet access, music and financial services. Mobile messaging is more than just SMS nowadays. Many operators are starting to offer voice and even video SMS. In addition to being better at conveying emotions, voice is quicker than keying and lets even the world’s illiterate users, and those whose language does not use the Roman alphabet, send and receive messages.
Mobile phones today have moved beyond their fundamental role of communications and have become an extension of an individual’s persona. Users buy mobile phones not just to be in touch, but to express themselves, their attitude, feelings and interests. Customers continuously want more from their phones. They use their cellular phones to play games, read news headlines, surf the Internet, keep a tab on astrology, listen to music, or even check their bank balance. Today’s consumer wants more than just a voice call and SMS, which leads us to value-added services. A vast world exists beyond voice service and the cellular industry is tapping into it. Mobile phone subscribers are beginning to choose their operators based on their value-added services (VAS). The importance of VAS has also pushed content developers to constantly strive to develop better, more innovative services. The world over, voice still generates about 90 per cent of operator revenues. However, this percentage has been steadily falling due to the rapid rise in non-voice revenues. Although voice revenues are falling, the overall operator revenues have increased, thanks to the many VAS that operators have launched. Mobile messaging has become a very popular and powerful mode of communication. Today businesses, governments, schools, even family life would feel the impact if emails, instant messaging and SMS text messaging were suddenly to stop. Bear in mind their relative scales: IM, Instant messaging, has about half a billion users worldwide; email has about a billion; but two billion people actively use SMS text messaging. Amongst all the VAS, short messaging service (SMS) has proved to be the rabbit pulled out of a magician’s bag. The messaging culture started in the nineties. Today almost one in two people in the world send messages. Fishermen in Africa send messages to stores in local villages to find where they can get the best offers for their catch of the day. Employees in the Philippines get their pay checks sent directly to their phones and then make payments via SMS text messages or withdraw actual cash. Airlines from Finnair in Finland to All Nippon Airways in Japan allow check-in via SMS texting. New communication styles and needs are growing. The popularity of SMS, the emergence of a new mobile generation, and the rising Internet and email penetration and usage foretell a huge market potential for voice SMS service. Voice SMS is a new messaging paradigm; it provides asynchronous communication with voice. Voice SMS brings the power of mobile communication to rural and non-English speaking populations and lets people convey emotions with their voice. Voice SMS is a fast way to send short messages that receivers can retrieve at their convenience. It is similar to an SMS text message, but voice SMS is easier to use. When a voice SMS is sent, an SMS text message is received saying, ‘Hi, I have sent you a voice SMS. Click here to listen to your message, or Dial *0* to listen to your message.’ One click and you are listening to your new message in the voice of the sender. You can also reply with your own voice, or forward the message to any other mobile. Voice SMS is attracting customers from different regions around the globe and has positioned itself firmly as a viable messaging option in the mobile phone industry that is raking in US$85 billion in revenues from value-added services. In recent years, the growing mobile subscriber base has had a considerable impact; the Average Revenue per User (ARPU) has shrunk, pulling down the operator margins. As ARPU declines and voice becomes commoditized, the mobile operators are challenged to retain their customers, develop alternative revenue streams, and create a basis for differentiation in high-churn markets. In the wake of changing industry dynamics, telecom operators started looking at mobile value-added short message services. The industry has developed a growing portfolio of services including graphics and wallpaper downloads, ring tones and caller ring back tones (CRBT), SMS contests and games. In the background of such innovation in the mobile space, voice SMS is an excellent option for people to send and receive short voice messages. As a market proposition, voice SMS has added a new dimension to messaging, the most widely used and most successful mobile service today. By adding voice to SMS capabilities, SMS has become faster, easier and more personal without changing its inherent interoperability and ease-of-use benefits. Voice SMS can be added to the wireless infrastructure with minimal impact. While voice SMS provides immense value to mobile subscribers worldwide, it is particularly well suited for multilingual countries that have scores of languages with script-based alphabets that make ‘texting’ more complicated with a standard Roman alphabet keypad. Voice SMS paves the way for value-added services based on this technology. Strategically, the more innovative voice SMS vendors look forward to leverage and build additional products and services, including content-based services, for its customers. The need to connect globally, without having to worry about time zone differences or the high cost of international voice calling, gave rise to international voice SMS. Voice messages are no longer restricted to mobiles. With the help of convergent voice SMS, fixed line and mobile subscribers can exchange voice SMS messages with other fixed line and mobile subscribers. There are several P2A and A2P applications – person to application and application to person messaging – built on top of voice SMS that can be offered. To contact the called party when they are not reachable or not responding, call completion gives the caller an option to leave voice SMS. Video SMS allows any user to send video multimedia messages to a mobile phone. Outbound message delivery is the ability to deliver voice SMS messages using outbound calls. Background Music allows users to enrich and personalize the content. These are just a few of the many value-added services delivered by the industry. Mobile operators have penetrated deeply into the public call office (PCO) segment, especially in the developing markets where people cannot afford mobile phones. In the PCO arena, we see a huge potential market for PCO voice SMS services. With voice SMS, advertising agencies can embed voice in product the message to give a richer and more effective user experience. Moreover, voice SMS can substitute for promotional calls (which are quite disturbing in the course of a meeting or an important discussion), and replace them with voice SMS messages that users can listen to when they have the time. By 2010, we expect over 600 carriers in more than 150 countries to have launched voice SMS. The voice message market is expected to constitute 10 to 20 per cent of the SMS market within four years, which translates to 300 to 600 billion voice messages in a year. In a market where new scenarios and new opportunities are emerging every passing day, the future of voice SMS looks very upbeat.