Monday, January 23, 2012

Finding mobile app innovation the SMS way

Everyone talks about over-the-top (OTT) innovations in voice and messaging. It’s the hot new thing.

But let’s not forget the many – and lucrative – possibilities of the simple SMS.

Developers around the world are building a dizzying array of customized solutions that utilize SMS/MSS to communicate to their customers. More than 75,000 software developers in the US alone are building mobile apps using code from American startup Twilio that leverage on traditional voice and texting capabilities. is an app - developed by Erik Dungan using Twilio - that helps find the correct shoe size of a gift recipient using questions sent by anonymous SMS. When the recipient responds, the sender receives the answer by SMS. The recipient can even receive follow-up questions asking what kind of shoe they prefer for example.

We’ve all been faced with a bewildering array of sizes and styles when shopping for gifts. So it’s unsurprising that this simple solution and others like it are proving wildly popular.

More mash-ups created for web developers by companies like Twilio is good news for operators. They give operators new opportunities to monetize their network capabilities. This forward-looking engagement with “old” technologies like texting can only boost revenue streams. And if you look even a little farther out, cloud-based applications such as call centers, interactive voice response systems, group texting and conference calling are on the horizon.

Could 2012 be the year that highlights the utility of infrastructure-as-a-service?

I believe it already is.

How will all this affect the business models of developers, operators and companies like Twilio?

Any ideas?

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