Light Reading

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.

SarahReedy
50%
50%
SarahReedy,
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.
SarahReedy
50%
50%
SarahReedy,
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.
SarahReedy
50%
50%
SarahReedy,
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.
SarahReedy
50%
50%
SarahReedy,
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   >   >>
Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
More Blogs from Que Sera Sarah
Well funded South Korean MVNO that went under in 2008 has quietly relaunched to try again with its low-cost wireless service on Sprint's network in the US.
But the bar it has set is really, really low, according to a recent Dell study.
The steady drumbeat of progress continues on as new groups are formed, R&D centers opened, timelines presented and strategies refined for making 5G a reality by 2020.
P3's study of VoLTE in the DC area shows it delivers high-quality, crisp calling, but a lot of stars still have to align to be able to use it.
And Light Reading wants to help! We're proud to partner with Intel to identify and profile female and minority-led communications startups competing for the funding.
Flash Poll
From The Founder
Network architects aiming to upgrade their networks to support agile, open, virtualized services in the 21st century need to consider new criteria when choosing between technology suppliers.
Live Streaming Video
CLOUD / MANAGED SERVICES: Prepping Ethernet for the Cloud
Moderator: Ray LeMaistre Panelists: Jeremy Bye, Leonard Sheahan
Wagner’s Ring
Business Value Trumps Moving Bits for Virtual Networks

7|7|15   |   01:22   |   (0) comments


At the recent Open Networking Summit, carriers described how they're focused on increasing revenue rather than just improving technology. This requires cultural changes, which can be more difficult than technology changes.
LRTV Custom TV
VeEX: Live from the Big Telecom Event 2015

7|7|15   |   2:28   |   (0) comments


VeEX's Carl Goldschmidt provides new product updates, including the RXT modular test platform and TX300s. With the latest technology in pluggable physical interfaces, the RXT platform combines multiple technologies with testing range from 10 Mbit/s to 100 Gbit/s. The TX300s is an "All-in-one" advanced multi-service test platform from 64 Kbit/s to 100 Gbit/s that ...
LRTV Custom TV
Light Reading Interviews MRV: 2015 Big Telecom Event

7|7|15   |   3:45   |   (0) comments


Scott St. John, SVP of Global Sales & Service, discusses MRV's customer-centric culture, the new OptiPacket OP-X1 100G access platform, and recent customer wins with Light Reading at BTE 2015.
LRTV Custom TV
Procera: Enhancing the Subscriber Experience

7|7|15   |   4:53   |   (0) comments


Hear from Procera on the latest in Subscriber Experience solutions. Learn how Procera's RAN Perspective technology helps network operators monitor and manage network traffic, in real-time, solving congestion and other network issues.
Between the CEOs
HP's Prodip Sen: The NFV Journey

7|7|15   |   21:39   |   (1) comment


Prodip Sen, CTO of the Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) business unit at HP, talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the four stages of the NFV journey.
LRTV Documentaries
Leading Lights 2015 Winners' Video

7|7|15   |   08:34   |   (2) comments


Hear what the Leading Lights 2015 winners had to say after they picked up their awards in Chicago.
LRTV Documentaries
PSA: The Perils of a Hyper-Connected Society

7|6|15   |   1:38   |   (0) comments


A public service announcement calling attention to the perils of a hyper-connected society.
LRTV Interviews
Guavus Takes Analytics on the Road

7|6|15   |   4:09   |   (4) comments


Guavus CEO Anukool Lakhina tells Light Reading CEO and founder Steve Saunders how the analytics tools developed for telcos are applicable to the transportation industry.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Mellanox's New 25/50/100Gb/s Ethernet Products

7|6|15   |   2:44   |   (0) comments


Mellanox offers a complete 10/25/40/50/56/100Gbit/s solution that delivers industry-leading performance, scalability, reliability and efficiency for optimal application performance and data center ROI.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Arista's CloudVision

7|6|15   |   6:01   |   (0) comments


Anshul Sadana answers questions from Steve Saunders, Light Reading’s founder and CEO, about Arista’s CloudVision, a global cloud network controller for workload orchestration and workflow automation delivering a turnkey solution for cloud networking.
LRTV Custom TV
Red Hat Demo

7|2|15   |   10:53   |   (0) comments


Red Hat's Nicolas Lemieux demonstrates how Red Hat is driving innovation through open source communities.
LRTV Custom TV
Red Hat's Approach to OpenStack Adoption

7|2|15   |   5:17   |   (0) comments


Red Hat's Radhesh Balakrishnan outlines his company's open source strategy for both enterprises and telcos.
Upcoming Live Events
September 16-17, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 16, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
October 6, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
October 6, 2015, Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
October 14-15, 2015, New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, LA
November 5, 2015, Hilton Santa Clara, Santa Clara, CA
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Equinix walks through the past four digital economy eras from computing to network to connected to today's interconneted world.
Hot Topics
What's a Gigabit Good For?
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 7/1/2015
IBM Sows Seed for New Telco Unit, Plans NFV/SDN Push
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 7/6/2015
What the Helio? MVNO Is Back After First Flop
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 7/6/2015
FCC Chairman Talks Up SDN/NFV
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 7/2/2015
A&E Launches Lifetime OTT Service
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 7/3/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Prodip Sen, CTO of the Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) business unit at HP, talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the four stages of the NFV journey.
Casa Systems has been going from strength to strength over the last couple of years. In 2013, it became the first vendor to ship an integrated CCAP device -- the ...
Cats with Phones