[VoiceOps] SMS apps, providers, and peers

Alex Balashov abalashov at evaristesys.com
Tue Dec 8 23:37:26 EST 2009

Peter Beckman wrote:

>  Hell, I'm not even sure what _I_ am doing next year, much less the rest of
>  the world when it comes to text messaging communications.  I do know that
>  SMS is growing now, is in active use now, and for me to put some effort
>  into building a messaging infrastructure surrounding my VoIP service makes
>  sense.  If I do it intelligently, then the messaging infrastructure I
>  build now can support SMS now and whatever comes next later.

Agreed.  At the end of the day, prognostication of such organic market 
trends is informed voodoo at very best.  This will, as it has, remain 
a matter of opinion at the end of the day.

>  Most of the smartphones can't run a messaging app in the background, and
>  if it can, which one should it?

That is not entirely true.  Many smartphones can run a messaging app 
in the background;  for those that can't, there are ways around it.

For example, Apple is notorious for prohibiting the concept on the 
iPhone.  However, it does provide a "push notification" API which can 
be used by an application that has servers on the back end holding 
connections to messaging services open surrogately.  In my case, I use 
the Beejive IM client to stay connected to our company's internal 
Jabber/XMPP server;  when one of our associates sends me a message to 
the appropriate account, I receive an incoming message on my phone 
that is identical to an incoming SMS in appearance and disposition. 
However, when I press "View" it will open Beejive instead of the SMS 
application and initiate a conversation.  Thus, my experience of 
receiving an IM this way is not different than my experience of 
receiving an SMS, although I agree that other limitations are 
presently in force (who can send me an IM that way, how easily, what 
type of phone it takes to make that happen, etc.)

It's a nasty hack, to be sure, and I predict this aversion to TSRs 
will gradually go away, or be replaced by a more elegant compromise to 
support asynchronously generated incoming events without client-side 
polling (aka "push").

> The only thing all handsets and all
>  carriers support for public messaging is SMS.  Until the phone can
>  natively and in a built-in way support other messaging platforms that are
>  supported by all handsets and carriers, SMS is here for a while.  Just
>  because it sucks and there are better things out there doesn't mean it's
>  going away.  Look at Beta vs VHS -- better did not win.

And BlueRay did not displace DVD.  I agree that better is not always a 
winner, especially if it's more expensive.  My position is a bet on 
whether mobile handsets will continue to be used principally as phones 
and textual data terminals in the next 1-3 years.  I predict that they 
will not, and if they will, certainly the user expectations will grow 
to a superset of what SMS currently provides.  The price and maximum 
length of messages is the most crippling, not the format.

>  I believe it is impossible for anyone to know what will replace SMS, or
>  even if SMS will be replaced entirely in the next 2-20 years.  If you do,
>  don't tell us!  Build it yourself, and wait for the money to roll in,
>  because you'll be the only provider offering it.

It is not necessary to know what will replace it with great confidence 
in order to be quite certain that it will be replaced by something.

>  In the meantime, building SMS capabilities into VoIP DIDs is a service
>  that can be sold now, and my gut says for a good long while (5+ years).

I suppose it really depends on the market and the context.  My 
argument is not that SMS is not useful or sellable now, but rather 
that the onerous terms, tight control and hefty minima aren't worth 
bothering with.  Our premises differ in that I do not share your 
perception that it is practically free money simply being left on the 
table;  it is not effortless or wholly cheap to develop, productise 
and bill SMS services.

Alex Balashov - Principal
Evariste Systems
Web     : http://www.evaristesys.com/
Tel     : (+1) (678) 954-0670
Direct  : (+1) (678) 954-0671

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