|By Brough Turner||
|April 9, 2008 01:45 PM EDT||
So pricing a voice SMS is equally an arbitrary exercise. For example, a user records a 20-second voice message that is sent from the handset as a voice call over the network to an interactive voice response (IVR) server, a trip that lasts around 30 seconds. The IVR server sends an SMS to the recipient. When the recipient clicks on the SMS, they make a voice call to the IVR server to hear the message, again another 30 second call. In the end, the system used two voice calls and an SMS message to complete the transaction.
In the early stages of adoption when there is no “real” peak traffic period, such a voice SMS ends up costing the operator nothing because the network isn’t fully loaded. If the service takes off, and people begin sending voice SMS messages at a high rate during the day, the operator will likely consider differential pricing based on peak traffic periods much as with voice calls.
Priced to sell
So what pricing model is going to work?
In most of the world outside of the
Progressive operators who have launched voice SMS services
Grameenphone’s first-year adoption may be a harbinger of things to come as operators around the world begin offering voice SMS. Launching in September 2005, the company priced its voice SMS service up to 66 percent higher than SMS. And yet, it had six percent adoption in the first week, and 40 percent penetration of repeat users (3.6 million) by August of 2006 – faster than the adoption of SMS in most markets.
Voice SMS works in areas where voice calls are very
expensive (like Asia and
But the competitive landscape in the
This scenario won’t work in Asia or Europe because the high cost of voice calls would make it prohibitively expensive for a third party operator to negotiate the termination fees between operators, countries, etc.
Whether voice SMS evolves from a flat-rate, niche, “hip
technology” to a messaging necessity that operators will ultimately charge a
premium for remains to be seen. Early analysis suggests that voice SMS plays to
a common theme among successful mobile applications – new, more personalized
communication option. As long as operators deploy it without requiring new
handsets or major network upgrades, and price it appropriately for their
markets, they have the best shot at making it profitable and driving its
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