OpenMarket: 'SMS is not going anywhere'

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SAN DIEGO--With the popularity of instant messaging or over-the-top messaging apps rising, SMS-based providers could be in trouble, however mobile messaging and payments firm OpenMarket does not see it that way.

"SMS has two things that no one else has. It works on every phone out of the box, and everyone is a trained user," explained OpenMarket General Manager Jay Emmet in an interview with FierceMobileContent here at the CTIA MobileCon conference. He likened the ability to send an SMS to the accessibility and ubiquity of a dial tone.

Emmet admitted that he could see the dynamic shifting some on the consumer side, with other messaging options like Facebook Messenger. However, with these alternate programs, the user often has to download a separate messaging app or opt-in to a new service. OpenMarket's business is what Emmet calls "paradigm agnostic," with its messaging services targeting devices on all platforms.

With enterprise-based messaging campaigns, users explicitly opt-in to the service, which, he explained, provides both a better ROI for the marketer and provides a more specific, tailored message to the end user. In April, OpenMarket expanded its offerings to include Push notifications, allowing app makers to send alerts to users who have downloaded an app using OpenMarket's Push notification service.

Earlier this week, analyst firm Analysys Mason reported that over 45 percent of smartphone owners use an SMS alternative such as OTT messaging apps in addition to or in lieu of traditional SMS. However, the study noted that a very small percentage, 1.7 percent of respondents, only use the alternatives. The vast majority, 97 percent, continue to use SMS.

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