Friday, October 24, 2008

What do you mean when you say "Open"? (or: On Verizon's 3 cents per MT SMS)

What does Open mean to you?
Whenever a US operator talks about being "Open", or the need to be more "Open", I think of a bank vault, tightly shut. I think of Harry Houdini strapped real tight.

I'm sure many of you have been following the fiasco around Verizon's raise of 3 cents per MT SMS. Today they pulled it back, after the industry stood on its back feet. (BTW- do you think it's gone? I don't!)

When I read Mobile Marketers summary of this chapter and the commentary from SumoText's CEO, I can't help but feel sorry for all of us trying to sensibly operate in the US. I feel sorry because what we're after is not going to come through evolution, we need it to come from a larger force, through revolution. someone has to change the rules of the game.

The point is that, if you want a successful mobile ecosystem you have to make it look inviting to people from the outside, who have deep pockets. and like it or not, those people are uninterested in reading 77-pager documents from each carrier about how to apply for a shortcode program. They are simply not interested, as much as mobile might look attractive. And so the real mission is to make mobile look like other models that they know, like the web, but with far better conversion rates, targeting and measurement, at a comparable cost.

Deals will not get signed if the other side is anxious about a 3rd party in this ecosystem that feels they can raise their hands and force a major change just like that, whatever they like because they control the underlying infrastructure. Millions of dollars will go to IVR technology companies (no offense) because they are rely only on voice channels that can't be touched. Imagine Comcast told Unilever that every time one of their brands show an ad over Comcast network, they need to pay $0.03? that's unacceptable and unheard of.

As long as these are the rule of the game, no serious advertiser will look at the US mobile ecosystem as a strategic investment. I was hoping Nokia would have changed that, they didn't. Then came Apple and married themselves to AT&T. and then came "Open" Google and married themselves with T-Mobile.

I am really fed up with people using the word "open" for nothing.

This morning Mobile Marketer has this post on "Ensure SMS messages comply with carrier rules".
Let me share a few quotes:
"Ensuring your SMS messages are compliant with carrier rules is not as straightforward as you would think.

The level of inconsistency and mixed interpretation is mainly due to a lack of oversight and standardization in the industry...carriers have attempted to protect themselves, which is ultimately positive for consumers, but a pain for marketers"

great piece.

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