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December 28, 2015


Kirill Zelenski

i did ordered immediately. ) will recommend to order corporate version also.


"If you used Whatsapp to communciate to your audience (in any country except its home, the Netherlands"

Whatsapp was founded in California. I do not understand the "home in the Netherlands" part?


Hi Tomi and all, Wishing you all happy festive season and a prosperous new year 2016.

I read with great interest Tomi's article and was wondering where is the analysis on the future of Voice/Messaging ? To talk of MMS at this day and age is very yesterday or perhaps last week - its very sour milk (no offence intended). Messaging and recently Voice has moved to newer more effective platforms. I used to have problems configuring my handset to send a simple picture message, high messaging bills after many error messages. Today, you do not need to worry about that with the new messaging platforms. Infact, you do not need to know what configurations are needed only register and you are ready to go.

Whatsapp and Facebook have taken over messaging and even rich voice (HD Voice, quick call setup) with little marketing effort overtaking MS Skype. Recently the young generation prefer newer platforms like instagram and snapchat while operators failed to embrace newer technology. I remember speding many workshops explaining to operators the benefit of RCS and hearing the constant, "it will only work if all users subscribed". It is at very slow pace that operators embraced 4G apart from a few like American Operators, EE UK and couple other. VoWiFi has only recently been adopted by a few operators to run on their 4G networks. Probably for the fear of losing the high premium Voice and Data rates but that is exactly what has driven many users to these new platforms with high quality yet cheap means of communication. It is a no brainer that at this age, Skype is not the only kid on the block when it comes to rich communication with relatives especially those living abroad. Several operators have already talked of switching off their 3G networks as 4G picks up pace.

Should operators not embrace the "Bit Pipe" approach to keep a piece of the pie ? What does the future hold for traditional mobile operators, especially those that will not embrace 4/5 G ? My view they will find themselves in a very empty house wondering where on earth has circus moved to.

Back to the reading and Happy New Year 2016 !

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Kirill, Winter and Jamie

Kirill - thanks! Its already been delivered

Winter - Sorry, maybe I've been mistaken. I remember hearing from Whatsapp people that it was a Dutch company or maybe it was Dutch owners/founders/creators or maybe it launched in the Netherlands first. I also noticed in the years that the adoption has been fastest/highest in the Netherlands. But I may be mistaken, I will look into it.

Jamie - haha, first. On 'MMS dead' Haha. Yeah. There is a CHAPTER on messaging in the Almanac and on this blog I wrote a 20,000 word essay once again on mobile messaging earlier this year, where I discussed that myth (once again). The numbers are brutal. The ACTIVE user base of MMS is three times that of Whatsapp. The POTENTIAL REACH of Whatsapp is limited to a fraction of the installed base of all phones, while MMS reaches most phones (the ones it can't reach are primarily in poor parts of Africa and Asia).

MMS as a media and content PLATFORM is the second best on the planet behind only SMS, in reach, in active users, and in REVENUES. But it is not used OFTEN. The active users might only send one or two MMS messages per month. For the advertiser, TV station, airline, retail store, whatever, the REACH is the key. Whatsapp doesn't reach (except in a few countries like Netherlands) a comparable number of people.

You and I may hate USING MMS as a person-to-person 'picture sharing' service for which it is remarkably clumsy - yet people still do - 3.2 BILLION people do that. What it is PERFECT for, is delivering MEDIA. Most consumers who receive say an airline boarding pass with the airlines's branding and the QR code, think its just an SMS text message that has a pretty picture. They don't even KNOW its an MMS. This is media. This is what TV for example is doing to send preview clips, or hollywood movies are using to send trailers to new movies etc. So yeah, I hear you. That what you said, I hear almost weekly. And yet what you wrote is a MYTH. Whatsapp is growing at nearly record-setting speed. If it continues to grow at that speed, it will catch up with SMS texting by active users around year 2030. I don't deal with myths on this blog and nonsense, I deal with the cold facts and hard numbers. All the major experts in the industry agree that this is so, and the brands and media and advertisers are learning the hard lessons now, as they finally agree to try something other than apps, and are astonished how well SMS - and MMS - is working. Just today on Twitter heard about a mobile marketing campaign that got a 60% redemption rate on coupons that were delivered via MMS. Sorry, you're wrong on that.

When you write 'Whatsapp and Facebook have taken over messaging' that only applies to the HEAVY USER TRAFFIC. Even most who who are heavy users of Whatsapp or Facebook, send occasional SMS messages. You are only referring to the hyped stats about traffic numbers, not users, not revenues and not engagement levels. Those are mostly teenagers who send 200 messages per day to each other. When they need to verify their lost password, they will happily do that with SMS etc..

Now on voice calls. The Almanac has a chapter on voice (see the Table of Contents, Chapter 15 in the above). I was the first expert of the mobile industry to observe the bewildering statistic that some people who used mobile phones, had stopped making voice calls (again, this happened first in Finland). So yeah, its been part of all I work with and write about, but its of only modest interest to most who work in this field. Telcos yes, haha, but not most who come to read this blog.

But to answer your question. There is a view that operators/carriers/telcos hate to hear, that their future might become a bit-pipe. I was doing these discussions nearly two decades ago and taught my consultants when I ran Nokia's consulting, to avoid this topic because carriers/operators/telcos didn't want to consider that option. So far, 15 years into the life of the 'rich' mobile data environments past just SMS, the operators/carriers are still able to milk those old cash cows, voice and SMS. They all see their revenues and profits in decline. I discuss this in the Almanac of course.

The bad part about the bit pipe scenario is that it would be a low-profit marging, high traffic business, in this, very capital-intensive industry. Investors (shareholders) don't want to see margins eroded to such degree. Its unlikely to be embraced soon, but some carriers/operators may go that way in the mid-term future. That to me, however, as a mobile industry consultant and 'expert' is not the optimal way to go. Most tech futurist agree that 'Big Data' would or should offer a lucrative profit opportunity for whoever does it. Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, Samsung etc are all playing into that direction. I say Big Data without Mobile is like a car without gasoline. So the mobile operators/carriers should look into this area, in particular as they own and operate the most enormous data gathering and collection systems in existence (their billing engines, the largest databases on the planet, utterly dwarfing other large databases like banks, credit cards and the tax authorities of countries). And most operators/telcos have seen this coming and are moving, but cautiously, in that direction.

On relying just on voice or SMS profits, no, that era is coming to an end. Many operators have already been stung by the rapid collapse of voice call profits (especially international call profits) by Skype and rivals, and of SMS consumer person-to-person profits by Whatsapp and rivals. The quarterly results of telcos now regularly feature surprises of losses but usually reliably profitable carriers/operators. Its the HEAVY volume users, when they suddenly switch, the damage will impact the telco profits very rapidly. As the 'cool kids' go to some popular new messaging or social media service, all their friends will follow, so there is a near-immediate collapse of the heavy user SMS texting traffic. With voice its not that dramatic because most profit is on international calls and only a tiny slice of all phone users generate most of those calls, and that transition to say Skype will not be instantaneous.

Is this painful. Obviously. Was this a surprise, absolutely not. The cannibalization of SMS by 'IM services' and of voice by 'VOIP' services was predicted in UMTS Report number 9, 15 years ago, to have happened - IN THE LAST DECADE. The operators/carriers have had a far longer 'good period' than they expected to get. But that time is coming to an end.

Hope that helped

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Wayne

Actually its (also) not true but often the term MMS is not used. I often even see the US industry say they put a picture into SMS or a QR code into SMS. Its the same thing, they just don't know its actually MMS. But there are tons of major campaigns, major brands, ABC TV show's what is that youth teenager thing, Pretty Little Liars, it sends MMS clips and 'secrets' to its fans, via MMS. Whats the one big department store... Nordstrom I think, it uses personal shoppers to loyalty program customers which send recommendation on clothing, accessories etc to to the customers, and they actually say, the recommendations come via SMS but they have... pictures. They use MMS, they just don't say they do. Incidentially more than half of Nordstrom's total m-commerce is sold with those MMS messages - that of course have 'click to buy' response options, like any messaging would have. Part of the charm and power. American Airlines for example uses MMS when it sends you mobile boarding passes and so forth and so forth. Tons an tons of it.

But its not REPORTED by most who discuss the industry, because the banner ad sales networks don't control the SMS and MMS inventory... haha !!! thats where the rub is. So the impression is that there is nothing going on. But look at the studies, most will say 'excludes advertising on messaging' or 'excludes SMS and MMS'.

I just Tweeted today a link to yet another American mobile marketing exec, who once again said the same thing, that they keep telling their clients, don't do the apps first, mobile first means messaging first. And that he always gets angry reactions from clients who are mesmerized by their cool ideas for smartphone apps... All the big names there like the MMA (Mobile Marketing Association) and the gurus and authors of mobile marketing there across the Atlantic, like Gary Schwartz and Michael Becker and Kim Dushinski and Chetan Sharma etc, they all say - do SMS and MMS - and that MMS will supercharge your already awesome SMS marketing performance. MMS delivers from 3x to 6x better response rates and redemption rates than the same campaign run on SMS. While SMS gets 10x to 50x better rates than mobile banner ads.

Now who makes the money? Carriers take a huge slice - even more so the greedy American ones haha. As to the Almanac, no, it won't give that kind of breakdown, as this is not a mobile messaging report haha. There is only one chapter on messaging which includes everything from SMS to OTT messaging like Whatsapp.

Tomi Ahonen :-)


It's because you are Americans - clueless on mobile and laggards in technology.

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Wayne and N9

Wayne, sorry if there was confusion. MMS is not the largest mobile ad platform, either by volume nor by revenues. Neither is SMS while its larger than MMS in mobile ad volume and by revenues. So SMS is the largest mobile DATA service by users and by revenues but not specifically in advertising. MMS is the second largest mobile data service by users and revenues, but most of its reveunues are still paid media not advertising.

Banner ads are BY FAR the largest mobile ad media by volume, and somewhat larger than messaging, by revenues, globally. In North America where the internet was born and banner ads most abusively pervasive, and where SMS and MMS were late deployed and not well understood, the imbalance is worst (compared to the rest of the world) where banners are by far the most used mobile ad format and proportionately SMS and MMS are least used (compared to rest of world, as proportion of mobile ad budgets totally).

N9 - thanks but lets play nice :-) And 'laggards in tech' is a bit stretching it, they are laggards in mobile tech but I'd say well on par or ahead on many other tech, compared to almost any other country except South Korea. Now, when I say ahead, obviously this does not apply to their archaic banking systems - even using paper cheques still regularly... gosh how ancient is that.

Tomi Ahonen :-)


Tomi: My recent experience with American marketing involves SMS. I think I'll share it to you:

My daughter has a Lumia. Don't blame me, this is Finland and she bought it herself. I advised her NOT to set up a M$ account so this is one in your reported pack of "one third of Lumias that have never been activated". ;-)

Now after Christmas my daughter got a SMS from local shopping centre saying that "You have not visited our mall in a week! Would you like to hear about the recent offers?"
I happened to hear her mention the SMS and asked to see it. According to the text the advertiser got the phone number from Microsoft.

Here comes the ugly part: The location data was correct, it was exactly one week since her last visit there. That means that not only is her phone sending her location info to Microsoft, accompanied with the phone number, but all this is done from a device where she has never set up a M$ account and therefore she has never agreed to any cryptic license agreement that would allow them to do this.

What a jolly business they have in the Americas.

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Asko

Gosh, creepy isn't it, as the father.. Thanks for sharing. This is sad, weird, bewildering and also upsetting. I always say, don't spy, don't spam. Ask permission and deliver satisfaction. Create magical experiences to delight... that is all the wrong way, in every way...

Thanks for writing.

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Wayne Borean


Windows 10 is another stalker. If you turn off the system that sends information to Microsoft, the next major software update turns it back on. This has been heavily reported in the Tech media.

No, I have no direct experience with this myself, I don't use Windows, haven't since Windows XP cost me a week's worth of work. Even I learn eventually.

The comments to this entry are closed.

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    Tomi Ahonen is a bestselling author whose twelve books on mobile have already been referenced in over 100 books by his peers. Rated the most influential expert in mobile by Forbes in December 2011, Tomi speaks regularly at conferences doing about 20 public speakerships annually. With over 250 public speaking engagements, Tomi been seen by a cumulative audience of over 100,000 people on all six inhabited continents. The former Nokia executive has run a consulting practise on digital convergence, interactive media, engagement marketing, high tech and next generation mobile. Tomi is currently based out of Helsinki but supports Fortune 500 sized companies across the globe. His reference client list includes Axiata, Bank of America, BBC, BNP Paribas, China Mobile, Emap, Ericsson, Google, Hewlett-Packard, HSBC, IBM, Intel, LG, MTS, Nokia, NTT DoCoMo, Ogilvy, Orange, RIM, Sanomamedia, Telenor, TeliaSonera, Three, Tigo, Vodafone, etc. To see his full bio and his books, visit Tomi Ahonen lectures at Oxford University's short courses on next generation mobile and digital convergence. Follow him on Twitter as @tomiahonen. Tomi also has a Facebook and Linked In page under his own name. He is available for consulting, speaking engagements and as expert witness, please write to tomi (at) tomiahonen (dot) com

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