The Punch has a business article titled “BBM on iPhones threatens telcos N9.75bn SMS revenue”. The heading was almost a put off from the word go. There is no way in hell that BBM for iPhones will threaten anybody’s revenue here in Nigeria. The iPhone marketshare is so insignificant that chances of that happening is zero. But I did read the full article, in which the complete claim is that BBM on both iPhones and Android threaten the N9.75bn SMS reveneue due Nigerian telecoms operators. Sounds much better, but then I doubt that it is a serious claim.
For one, WhatsApp has been around much longer, has more subscribers, is more direct to setup and get going, and is available on more platforms than BBM. If any instant messaging app has a chance of disrupting SMS revenues in Nigeria, it has got to be WhatsApp. Let me itemise why WhatsApp has the better chance of being the disruptor:
- WhatsApp has been around much longer
- WhatsApp has more subscribers
- WhatsApp is more direct to setup and get going
- WhatsApp is available on more platforms – Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry, iOS, Asha/S40, J2ME
I do understand the BBM craze that is characteristic of Nigeria. No doubt, BBM is popular here. Very. I even personally prefer it to WhatsApp, but the Punch article just doesn’t reflect the realities on ground. Yes; BBM4All is a part of the overall threat, but WhatsApp is the stronger part of the equation. At least for now.
Telcos Need To Evolve
There is no doubt though that instant messaging as a whole will eat out of telecoms operators’ SMS revenue. It has been doing so for years and will continue to do so. It is time that operators begin to evolve. This is the data age (we need to stop referring to SMS as a data platform already). We need more robust data services. That is the future, and it is the operators that deliver on the internet front – to be more specific, the broadband front, who will ride in style. Instant messaging is here to stay.
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