Indonesian Telcos Building Messaging Solution to Compete with the Likes of Viber, Line, WhatsApp
Amir Karimuddin - 25 February 2013
IndoTelko is reporting that BRTI, the Indonesian telecommunications industry regulator, along with local mobile operators are working on a plan to deliver “Messaging Indonesia”. Messaging Indonesia is expected to be a solution to a cross platform instant message and multimedia document delivery network which works across multiple carriers.The concept is similar to WhatsApp as well as other messaging solutions, but with domestic routing which is expected to reduce operational costs for carriers and offer an alternative solution to customers.
In Singapore, a similar concept is being developed by StarHub and SingTel, each with its own application. Certainly all of this is an effort by operators to remain competitive considering the concept of SMS in the current climate is outdated and the revenue for operators keep declining, replaced by data-dependent messaging services.
Is this a correct move? In my opinion Messaging Indonesia has good potential for feature phones that have 3G connectivity but without access to cross platform messaging apps that are common on smartphones. Perhaps it’s only the Nokia Asha series that has access to WhatsApp which natively has similar features. Alternatively mig33 is one service that has captured the attention of Indonesians who are still on feature phones.
As Indonesian mobile data subscriber inches closer to 100 million in total (both feature phone and smartphone) this may end up becoming an alternative revenue generator for carriers. of course, this is relatively useless for smartphone users who are already familiar with a wide range of alternative messaging apps with much better features.
Will this service withstand popular foreign competitors? Only the market can decide. If the reliability and quality of the service are maintained, it may grow and develop to compete with other services who are already in use by tens of millions of people, even hundreds of millions across the world. Especially if the incentives to use the service are attractive, for example, costing only Rp 15,000 – Rp 20,000 (USD 1.6 – 2.06) a month for unlimited access. As a comparison, Telkomsel has an unlimited use data package for WhatsApp, Line and KakaoTalk for Rp 30,000 (USD 3.09) a month.
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More alternative services surely will give consumers more options to choose the service which fit their needs best. The competitive nature to maintain service quality may become the benchmark of success for these services.