& cplSiteName &

Operators Can't Kik the OTT Habit

Sarah Thomas
12/12/2013
100%
0%

Do you Kik? Ever even heard of it? Maybe not unless you're under the age of 20, but it's the latest over-the-top (OTT) platform to join the 100 million club and give the operators a run for their SMS revenues.

The mobile messaging app announced today that it has more than 100 million registered users, triple what it had this time last year. The app has been around since 2010, but Kik CEO Ted Livingston tells CNet it's now signing up around 250,000 new registrants every day, primarily teens in the US.

Kik is essentially another SMS alternative, but it lets its users pick a user name rather than use their phone number. So you can give out your Kik name over other popular OTT sites such as Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter to chat without having to reveal your phone number. People aren't using it because of the expense of SMS, but because it's more fun.

Kik is also using open APIs to let third-party developers build apps on top of the messaging service for games, music-sharing, or location-based services. One game, Costume Party, a mobile version of Pictionary for Kik users, already has around 4 million users.

One-hundred million may not carry the weight that it used to -- WeChat and Line have around 300 million, and KakaoTalk, Viber, and Tango have all cracked 100 million -- but what's remarkable to me is the level of innovation that continuously comes from the OTT camp, as well as the success that so many of them are having. Kik is now getting more downloads than another OTT success WhatsApp in the US, but WhatsApp is managing to hold on to more than 350 million users.

The traditional knock on OTTs is that they can't achieve ubiquity, like SMS, but that is increasingly becoming a moot point. It's also becoming clear that this type of innovation won't (ever?) come from the wireless operators. The smart ones are striking partnerships in the space, but even those, like Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) with Jibe, don't even come close. Frankly, even Telefonica Digital's much-heralded homegrown Tu Go service that lets you text from your tablet is boring in comparison to what the OTTs are doing. (See Sprint Jibes With OTT Comms, Genband Acquires fring to Help CSPs Go OTT, Meet Voxox, the OTT CLEC, and Et Tu, Telefónica?)

I'm not sure what the answer is here. I've come to realize it's just not in operators' DNA to be this innovative. I would suggest that they partner, but I'm not sure a company such as Kik or WhatsApp would be interested. SMS certainly isn't dying, but it's also not thriving, and OTTs continue to point out how much it lacks.

The operators could learn a lot from these OTT players, and, if they're smart, they'll play close attention to how the next generation of mobile users chooses to communicate.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

(24)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Page 1 / 3   >   >>
Kruz
50%
50%
Kruz,
User Rank: Light Sabre
1/21/2014 | 6:10:01 PM
Re: OTT or Zipwhip
Its indeed innovative. That should happen when ott and operators work together.
lborgstede
50%
50%
lborgstede,
User Rank: Light Beer
1/21/2014 | 1:37:07 PM
OTT or Zipwhip

If you look closely you'll see plenty of new innovation in SMS. Last week at CES, Zipwhip and AT&T revealed a new iPhone cloud texting breakthrough. And then there's business texting. Thanks to companies like Zipwhip more than 200 million business landline and toll free numbers can be equipped with SMS texting. Police departments, radio stations, non-profits and other organizations are adding texting capabilities to their existing landline and toll free numbers to field customer inquiries, schedule appointments, send out reminders, take sales orders and improve customer loyalty. That seems innovative to me.

Sarah Thomas
50%
50%
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
12/17/2013 | 4:34:07 PM
Re: WhatsApp
iMessage does it for me on the iPhone, but that is OTT, and I'm not that young and hip. The native experience on Android was surprisingly bad for MMS, video sharing and group messages. I would have definitely used on OTT app if I stuck with Android.
Kruz
50%
50%
Kruz,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/17/2013 | 4:31:12 PM
Re: WhatsApp
True. But other than price and anonymity, people also opt for OTT players for a richer experience. SMS doesn't satisfy users need for an instantaneous 2 way chat with video, imaging, groups, etc... OTT's all in all experience evolved in a way SMS's experience should have.
Sarah Thomas
50%
50%
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
12/17/2013 | 10:29:18 AM
Re: Kik
I'm not sure how much one is cannabolizing the others, but that's a good question. Most have very similar feature sets, which is one reason why they can't all last. But, ultimately, you go where your friends are. People would get bored pretty quickly -- or move on to the next app -- if everyone they know is too.
Sarah Thomas
50%
50%
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
12/17/2013 | 10:27:52 AM
Re: WhatsApp
That is true for WhatsApp and other OTTs, but Kik, in particular, has said that isn't the case. Most of its users have unlimited SMS plans. They are using it because they like the anonymity of a user name instead of their phone number, so they can connect with people on social networks. Like GroupMe, WhatsApp and others, I think people also like Kik for group messaging with their non iPhone friends.
elligottmc
50%
50%
elligottmc,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/17/2013 | 9:46:31 AM
WhatsApp
Maybe I missed this point in my skimming of the article, but one of the main reasons WhatsApp has caught on with the younger crowd (and older lads like me) is that it gets around messaging costs for texting, particularily international.  Get an ID and a data connection and your in business.  One thing the youth know how to do is avoid expenses.  OTT is the ultimate workaround.  Therefore it will continue to thrive (much to the chagrin of providers).
DOShea
50%
50%
DOShea,
User Rank: Blogger
12/16/2013 | 10:47:02 PM
Re: Kik
Are any of the other OTT apps looking like fads to any degree? I know with hundreds of millions of users, the obvious answer is know, but when a newer one comes along like kik, how is it affecting the growth pace of the older apps, if at all?
MordyK
50%
50%
MordyK,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/13/2013 | 11:22:52 AM
Re: Telco as identity
unfortunately my optimism is tempered with those doubts as well.
Sarah Thomas
50%
50%
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
12/13/2013 | 10:30:48 AM
Re: Telco as identity
I hope you're right, Mordy! They have the assets, as you say, but I have a hard time believing they'll build it in house or partner in a way that leverages the innovation of the OTTs without crushing it internally.
Page 1 / 3   >   >>
More Blogs from Que Sera Sarah
Nicole Engelbert, the director of research and analsis for Ovum, will be joining Women in Comms on Wednesday, Aug. 2 at 11:00 a.m. EST to talk all things women in tech.
Consulting firm will build 'inclusion councils' with white men in the mix instead of employee resource groups for women and minorities alone.
How many more women have to come forward and public apologies issued before we can just agree that now is the time to stop being creepy and start being decent human beings?
Over-the-top content company cuts its famous 120-slide deck down to 10 pages to communicate its values and culture to those both inside and outside of its business.
The ride-hailing company said it has let 20 employees go over an investigation into sexual harassment claims and is still investigating almost 100 others.
From The Founder
NFV's promises of automation and virtualization are intriguing, but what really excites service providers is the massive amount of money they could save.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
VMWare VP Brings Women Up With Her

8|16|17   |   6:49   |   (1) comment


It's an art and a science to make mentorship, inclusive leadership, diversity and promotion of high-potential women work, says Honore' LaBourdette, vice president of Global Market Development at VMWare.
LRTV Documentaries
5G Spectrum Wars – The Recap

8|15|17   |   2:22   |   (0) comments


Service provider 3 has filed a lawsuit against Ofcom over 5G spectrum auction in the UK.
LRTV Custom TV
Say What? Facebook Unleashes AI Anarchy – The Recap

8|7|17   |     |   (0) comments


A recap of the week's talking points on Light Reading's sister site, telecoms.com. Facebook AI programmers had a bit of a brain-fade as they allowed one of its AI applications to invent its ...
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Fujitsu's Women Band Together to Help Girls Do STEM

8|2|17   |   9:35   |   (1) comment


Supporting women both inside and outside of Fujitsu is a top priority of the telecom vendor. Yanbing Li, Fujitsu Network Communication's director of System Software Development & Delivery, shares why it's important, but why there's still a long road ahead.
LRTV Custom TV
If You're Not First, You're Last – The Recap

7|31|17   |   08:18   |   (1) comment


In case you missed it, Amazon's 1% stock increase helped Jeff Bezos dethrone Bill Gates as the richest man in the world. Also, Taiwanese electronics manufacturer
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
AT&T's Tech President Preps Workforce for the Future

7|26|17   |   5:47   |   (10) comments


AT&T is focused on the software-defined network of the future and is reskilling its workforce to get ready too, according to AT&T's President of Technology Development Melissa Arnoldi.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Cisco: Mentoring Critical to Attract & Retain Women

7|19|17   |   6:40   |   (1) comment


Liz Centoni, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's Computing System Product Group, shares why mentoring in all its forms is important for women and what Cisco is doing that's made a difference for women in tech.
LRTV Custom TV
Gigabit LTE With Snapdragon 835

7|12|17   |     |   (1) comment


At an event in Wembley stadium, EE used its live network to demonstrate gigabit LTE using a Sony Xperia XZ Premium smartphone with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chip.
LRTV Custom TV
Implementing Machine Intelligence With Guavus

7|12|17   |     |   (0) comments


Guavus unites big data and machine intelligence, enabling many of the the largest service providers in the world to save money and drive measureable revenue. Learn how applying Machine Intelligence substantially reduces operational costs and in many cases can eliminate subscriber impact, meaning a better subscriber experience and higher NPS.
LRTV Custom TV
Unlocking Customer Experience Insights With Machine Intelligence

7|12|17   |     |   (0) comments


When used to analyze operational data and to drive operational decisions, machine intelligence reduces the number of tasks which require human intervention. Guavus invested in Machine Intelligence early. Learn about the difference between Machine Learning and Machine Intelligence.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Verizon VP Talks Network, Career Planning

7|12|17   |   4:49   |   (0) comments


Heidi Hemmer, vice president of Technology, Strategy & Planning at Verizon, shares how bold bets and the future of tech define her career.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Masergy's NFV Journey

7|11|17   |     |   (0) comments


Ray Watson, vice president of global technology at Masergy, discusses the advantages and challenges in entering the still-maturing NFV market for the past three years.
Upcoming Live Events
September 28, 2017, Denver, CO
October 18, 2017, Colorado Convention Center - Denver, CO
November 1, 2017, The Royal Garden Hotel
November 1, 2017, The Montcalm Marble Arch
November 2, 2017, 8 Northumberland Avenue, London, UK
November 30, 2017, The Westin Times Square
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
Intel CEO Leaves Trump Biz Advisory Board
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 8/15/2017
Are Cord-Cutting's Days Numbered?
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 8/14/2017
Analyst Nolle: Fundamental Errors Plague NFV
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 8/11/2017
Snapchat Misses Estimates, Eyes Reality Shows
Aditya Kishore, Practice Leader, Video Transformation, Telco Transformation, 8/11/2017
Orchestration Startup UBiqube Pivots Away From NFV
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 8/15/2017
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Animals with Phones
We Know a Tough Day When We See One Click Here
Live Digital Audio

Understanding the full experience of women in technology requires starting at the collegiate level (or sooner) and studying the technologies women are involved with, company cultures they're part of and personal experiences of individuals.

During this WiC radio show, we will talk with Nicole Engelbert, the director of Research & Analysis for Ovum Technology and a 23-year telecom industry veteran, about her experiences and perspectives on women in tech. Engelbert covers infrastructure, applications and industries for Ovum, but she is also involved in the research firm's higher education team and has helped colleges and universities globally leverage technology as a strategy for improving recruitment, retention and graduation performance.

She will share her unique insight into the collegiate level, where women pursuing engineering and STEM-related degrees is dwindling. Engelbert will also reveal new, original Ovum research on the topics of artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, security and augmented reality, as well as discuss what each of those technologies might mean for women in our field. As always, we'll also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air and chat board.