Operators will have to adapt, open up and partner with disruptive OTT players and others to stay in the telecom game as the industry becomes reshaped by cloud services, connected machines and virtual goods.
That was the theme of a keynote session Tuesday morning at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, in which executives from the operator and OTT sectors pitched their vision of where the mobile industry is headed.
Talmon Marco, CEO of OTT messaging service provider Viber, wasn’t shy about touting the success of OTT services or their impact on revenues, but pointed out that OTT messaging services succeed not because they’re free, but because they offer a better experience than the services they replace.
“SMS hasn’t changed since 1993,” he said. “Consumers want innovation. That’s why OTT services succeed.”
Marco was also dismissive of efforts like joyn RCS, describing it as the telecom equivalent of the old joke that “a camel is a horse designed by a committee”.
“Only nine operators support it, only a handful of handsets support it, and the features are stuff we do already,” he said.
However, Marco also admitted that he’d rather partner with telcos than fight them, saying that Viber can benefit from things that telcos can provide, from better network performance and operator billing to better security.
“Cooperation is the way to go,” he said, adding that Viber had just inked a partnership with Indonesian operator Axis to offer reduced price packages for customers using Viber.