Mobile instant messaging (MIM) is the latest value-added service offering within the mobile industry that enables subscribers to enjoy real-time instant messaging conversational communication. As the first mobile feature of its kind, presence information is going to play a key role in increasing MIM popularity in western Europe.
“Presence information can bring about emotional triggers that are the main drivers behind people using instant messaging services,” explains Frost & Sullivan (http://telecom.frost.com) Research Analyst Luke Thomas. “It also indicates the best mode of contact that would be desired by an individual, thereby enhancing the scope of communication.”
MIM services are currently targeted at the public domain, but are also expected to serve enterprises in the future. It is estimated that the MIM market in western Europe will generate revenues of EUR 24.4 million in 2005 and grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 131 per cent to reach EUR 1,600 million in 2010.
Since mobile voice revenues are gradually stagnating due to reduced tariffs and alternatives such as voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) over the fixed platform, the presence capabilities of MIM are expected to sustain the revenues for mobile carriers.
Some mobile operators are expressing concern that MIM might actually cannibalise voice and SMS revenues in the long run. However, this is not likely to occur as presence enables users to “pull” an application rather than helping them “push” it through.
For example, by viewing the presence information a user becomes aware that a contact is in a meeting. Rather than making a call (push), the user can send an instant message requesting their contact to call when they are available. This will only result to a positive return call (pull) from the recipient and thereby add in more value to the conversation as now the recipient is having a conversation because they want to and not because they are obliged to.
With subscribers placing greater emphasis on convenience of using the service as opposed to the technology and the capabilities that it offers, mobile operators need to offer more than just presence capabilities for long-term success in the market.
“More efforts must be placed on creating user-friendly client interfaces that integrate effectively with the handset features, thereby enhancing user experience,” observes Mr. Thomas.
In addition, as MIM will be an integrated part of all messaging applications in the near future, it is vital that operators include the presence information of the various mobile applications onto a common presence enabled address book rather than having a separate contact list for each application.
A centralised presence server will allow users to view the presence information of any contact in the phonebook irrespective of the mobile network or the community to which the contact belongs. It will also indicate the presence information for all multimedia applications, and reduce the network traffic resulting from presence updates.
However, including the presence information of all multimedia application onto a common address book is out of reach within the current protocol standard. The Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) is resolving this issue by integrating Session Initiated Protocol (SIP) and Session Initiation Protocol for Instant Messaging and Presence Leveraging extensions (SIMPLE) based protocols into its standard since most multimedia applications are based on SIP.
As it is estimated that the number of embedded client handsets will be much lower compared to non-embedded phones for the next couple of years, the primary focus of operators needs to be on educating customers on downloading the client into their non-embedded handsets.
Once the handset availability gets resolved by the end of 2005, the number of active MIM users is expected to increase by 238 per cent.
Location based services such as mobile gaming is also expected to add additional value to MIM. Calling from MIM contact lists, seamless switching between different multimedia communications, file transfers, search engine options, music downloads and video streaming are other unique features that are expected to enhance user experience and drive uptake of MIM in the future.
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Title: European Mobile Instant Messaging Market
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Published on: 12:00AM on 25th January 2005