Monday, February 13, 2006

Mobile IM coming later this year

The mobile industry has announced that Instant Messaging (IM) for mobile phones will be available later this year.

Fifteen of the world's top mobile operators, including Vodafone, Orange, T-Mobile, Telefonica and China Mobile have announced plans to roll out the PC-type IM services initially targeting some 700 million mobile users.

Vodafone and Orange today also announced interoperability between their two networks. The only catch is that you will have to pay to send an IM - but not to receive one - rather like texting.

As always the mobile industry has a catch and the catch is that services that we all take for granted as free on the fixed-line Internet are not free on mobile networks. Which means they take a great deal longer to get adopted on mobile or do not get adopted at all.

I just wish the mobile industry would stop thinking like luddite old world telco operators and start thinking like new world Internet/media entities that they need to replicate if they want to succeed in the data world. For data is nothing like voice.

They need to recognize that the consumer will not pay a fee every time they do something on their mobile phone. They need to offer some services for free to win market share and they need to figure out how to create ad based services.

And if they do not their competitors will - including a whole new breed of media savvy MVNO's like Virgin who have just announced a major mobile TV initiative.

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