Paid vs Free Push SMS Services
Ajay Vaishnavi, Director Telecom for Times Internet: Since there are services which are available to consumers free of cost, there is a pressure on traditional SMS services because there’s a lot of content available free, which advertisers are monetizing. There is also a gradual shift in the basic content services, from pull to push services. We have both pull and push services – both are paid. Any free services will have significant offtake. But there has also been a significant offtake of our paid services – the numbers are smaller than free. What we’ve seen in the market is that the consumer wants to move to push based services. At the same time, pull services are where they were in the past.

Why MMS Failed
Rajat Mukharjee, Idea Cellular: If I go back to 1997-98, you had to manually enter the service center number. 1999 onwards, service center numbers were embedded, because the sim card was able to communicate with the handset. The service center number was uploaded automatically, and if you changed your sim card, it asked if you want to change the service center number. Coming to GPRS, there are now units on the operator networks, which sense GPRS handsets when switched on for the first time. The handsets automatically download the three settings you require – GPRS, WAP and MMS. The usage is thereafter promoted through push messages.

MMS has been relegated to the past, though all handsets have the capability today. While everybody in this room has handsets with MMS capability, and the settings would have been pre-loaded. The difficulty is that when you send it, its not as intuitively usable as SMS. It takes longer to send, reach the destination, and sometimes doesn’t even reach the destination. There were device and network incompatibilities, and because it was complex – if I were to send a picture from x type of layout of phone, it may of may not be displayed in the same manner on your phone. A large number of app developers tried to develop apps to repixelate the picture and send it, but haven’t succeeded.

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