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November 27, 2012
Libon iOS Service Officially Goes Live
By Gary Kim, Contributing Editor
The iPhone version is “live” in the Apple iPhone App Store now, with an Android version to be released in early 2013.
The free version of Libon includes such things as free calls, instant messages and voicemail services. With a premium version costing £1.99 per month through a subscription on iTunes, it also boasts one hour of international calls to landlines or mobiles in 31 countries, unlimited greetings for voicemails, transcript of voicemails and recordings of voicemails included in notification e-mails.
For mobile service providers, the fundamental problems with over the top voice and messaging services have to do with the business model for obvious reasons. Ovum (News - Alert) said in a report earlier this year that the increased use of social messaging applications had cost mobile operators $13.9 billion (£8.8bn) in lost SMS revenues in 2011.
As with voice, OTT messaging will cannibalize mobile operator services. In 2012, global mobile VoIP service revenues might be about $2.5 billion, but mobile voice revenue overall could be in the range of roughly $1 trillion.
Since mobile service providers do not own the over the top apps, they do not participate in the revenue. If they try and offer their own OTT apps priced competitively with the over the top providers, however, they make little money, as well as may potentially disrupt their own more-lucrative voice and messaging services.
In fact, mobile VoIP is still worth less than 0.5 percent of overall mobile voice revenues, according to ARCchart.
ARCchart sees similar issues for mobile service provider messaging, expecting instant messages to exceed text messaging volumes by 2014 and continue growing rapidly, ultimately accounting for 65 percent of all message traffic pushed over mobile networks by 2016.
At some level, the determination is simply that the company needs to remain relevant as a supplier of communications services, whatever the danger of cannibalizing at least some of its own voice and messaging revenue. T-Mobile (News - Alert) has taken a similar approach.
In principle, supplying its own over the top voice app also means Orange can supply people with communications outside the areas of the world where Orange operates its own facilities.
If a major reason over the top apps and services are disliked is that they pose a threat to revenue, then a major reason for adopting an over the top approach is if doing so can create new revenue opportunities.
The business decisions are tricky, though; in some ways, over the top apps always will represent some danger of cannibalizing existing revenues. But service providers already understand and have embraced other ways of building new revenue streams by going “over the top.” They just haven’t used the term.
Competitive local exchange carriers often buy wholesale access from other service providers to create “out of region” services. Mobile virtual network operators purchase wholesale capacity to create branded retail mobile services.
So “over the top” also can represent an “out of territory” growth strategy.
Sooner or later, service providers will figure out how to do so on a broader scale. Telefonica, T-Mobile, Deutsche Telekom (News - Alert) and others have invested in their own over the top apps. In part, that has been a defensive move in markets where use of over the top apps is a major part of consumer behavior.
If you think about it, the Verizon (News - Alert) and Coinstarjoint venture to create a streaming version of Redbox is part of a pattern at Verizon and elsewhere, namely that over the top services increasingly are being viewed as a way to sell services to “non-customers.”
Likewise, T-Mobile USA has found much the same results with its “Bobsled” over the top VoIP service.
Of the more than one million Bobsled Calling users, 95 percent are not T-Mobile wireless subscribers, T-Mobile saysThis should suggest one key strategic difference between a carrier-offered app or service and an over the top app, namely that in some cases the OTT apps do not necessarily cannibalize current customer use of carrier services, but essentially are an "out of region" service that gets used by non-customers, a mobile VoIP application for smart phones, allowing users to make free calls and texts to other Libon users around the world by using a “freemium” model that joins Skype, Viber and WhatsApp, TuMe and Bobsled.
In related VoIP news, Patton (News - Alert) Electronics recently revealed its all-new customer service support system, including its new platinum-level Premium Support and platinum-plus Premium 24/7 Support services, which take the company’s already unparalleled gold-standard free support to an unbelievable new level. Already offering free lifetime technical support is rare in itself, but by working with Patton-Inalp (Switzerland), Patton Electronics (USA) is extending its lifetime technical support with global 24x7 coverage – something that is even rarer in the electronic-telecommunications industry.
To learn more about Patton’s new levels of customer support, click here.
Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO Miami 2013, Jan 29- Feb. 1 in Miami, Florida. Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.
Edited by Allison Boccamazzo
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