A while back I wrote a post about the future of mobile voice and text. At the time, I was working for Voda and somewhat overexcited at the thought that flat-rate data plans would enable consumers to bypass the mobile operators messaging and voice billing mechanisms.
Today I read a PR release about Mig33 offering a pre-paid credit platform. I wasn't too interested in that, but what did capture my attention were the claimed stats;
"more than 11 million people in 200 countries around the globe have already signed on to use mig33's mix of free and inexpensive Internet
communication services, including VoIP calls, instant messaging, e-mail, text
messaging, photo sharing, and social networking features. With more than 2
million sessions per day, users are sending more than 45 million messages
each day and sharing more than one million pictures a month. mig33 enables
users to carry their entire social community with them wherever they go, on a
device they never leave home without, creating an instant global social
If the numbers are true, this is huge! 11m people, 45m msgs/day, 1m pictures/month!!! Most of these apps weren't around before 2006, so in 2 years quite a considerable category has been created.
What i'd like to know though is 1) what the usage motivation is - does the base use it avoid paying their operator, or are they drawn in by the community? 2) how this claimed usage maps geographically - i.e. do high usage territories correlate to high ARPU markets? and 3) what is the related SN usage/penetration in these geographies (are these mobile apps filling a need where PC access is low and as a result, web based SNs e.g. MySpace/Facebook etc haven't caught on) or are these apps being used in addition to web-based SNs?
So presumably the pre-pay platform is now an attempt to monetise the base. This may prove somewhat tricky if the answers to the above questions indicate that the motivation for usage is an allergy to paying their mobile service provider.
Others include Pica, TruTap, NimBuzz, and BluePulse