The next point is: Pull or Push? Or put another way, Search or Something else? Search has succeeded big time on the PC, and so there is every reason to believe it should do well on the mobile also. My belief is that Search needs the mobile web – on SMS, the limitations are too many to make it work. Two chief ones: the cost of sending a premium SMS each time a search needs to be done, and the inability to always get an Answer that one is looking for. In countries like India, Search on mobile is probably better done via Voice where one can interactively fine-tune the requirement to get what is needed. (This is space where companies like JustDial in India are doing very well.) Pull-based Voice or SMS services will be limited due to their premium pricing, even though they can have mass appeal. This is where free incoming SMS will shine – and have the potential to be the next big thing.
In a way, we are already seeing free Push SMS – in the form of Spam. Users do not have the ability to opt-out, which creates frustration and leads users to start ignoring incoming SMSes from non-trusted sources. This brings us to the third point – on the mobile, it will have to be about Permission. As Seth Godin put it, “Mobile marketing demands Permission.”
So, taking the first three points together, we get the idea for the service: Permission-based SMS Subscription Services. This does not mean IVR (Voice), Search and P2A are not big. But there are inherent limitations which prevent the ideas from scaling. Free is a critical requirement for something to achieve mass numbers and scale. This is where SMS Subscriptions come in. The killer combination which gets over the limitations of SMS is SMS integrated with WAP and Voice (IVR / call centre).
(To be continued tomorrow)