Voice and messaging are the two most popular communications applications in the world. Every day, tens of billions of Short Message Service (SMS) and Multimedia Message Service (MMS) messages go back and forth. Yet popularity doesn’t always equate to profitability. In fact, SMS/MMS carrier revenues are flat or declining at a time when messaging is more popular than ever.
Commoditization and competition are at the root of the revenue problem. The commoditization of text messaging was perhaps inevitable, forcing carriers to offer unlimited-consumption packages as table stakes in a fiercely competitive market—a scenario all too familiar to veterans of the long-distance voice wars. Competition from over-the-top (OTT) providers (e.g., WhatsApp) is also eroding revenue share as subscribers take their conversations off line (and out of the carrier’s pocket). But innovation—or lack thereof—is also a part of the problem. Carriers need to think beyond text or image-plus-text messaging if they want to recapture and re-engage subscribers. Many carriers outside of the North American market are doing just that with the help of a company called Kirusa.
Kirusa is the creator of Voice SMS, an innovative service that combines voice and SMS in a rich messaging service. Using Voice SMS, subscribers simply press a key, record their voice message and send it over traditional SMS. While similar to MMS services, Voice SMS is available as part of a broader service that connects text messaging, voice, visual voicemail and missed calls through a single screen. You can think of Voice SMS as a kind of voice/messaging/voicemail mashup that allows subscribers to communicate in more ways, more easily.
Kirusa calls this kind of voice messaging “voicing,” and it’s quickly gaining traction in emerging markets such as Africa. Today, Voice SMS is used by more than 80 million subscribers in dozens of mobile operator networks. By enabling subscribers to inject the warmth of voice into text messaging, Kirusa has created a new kind of communications service that not only differentiates mobile operators in highly competitive markets but has actually been shown to lift carrier ARPU by one to four percent.
Voice SMS is centered on the idea of creating open communications between users—even if they’re using different devices or on different networks. Voice SMS also integrates with social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, which is critical as social messaging takes off in the next five years. Dialogic partners with Kirusa through our PowerMedia XMS server, which provides the robust media delivery and interworking needed to help carriers find their voice in the crowded messaging space. With more than one billion Voice SMS messages sent every month, the world is listening to what Kirusa does next.