I’ve not written much on my blog recently; I’ve found long hours and copious emails leave me lacking in inspiration to author originality! So something brief. We’ve been re-jigging some of our service and signing up to a new aggregator has reminded us just how difficult it is making services accessible via SMS globally.
Without the backing of a larger organisation we cant currently invest in multiple short codes in multiple territories. This leaves 11-digit virtual numbers for incoming. That seems fine until one realises that you need at least 5 different numbers and have to cater down to individual operator support in an individual country. Those who have a worldwide presence will find this obvious, but those of you running operations on a UK or home-territory basis will need patience and have to invest significantly in development if you want to support customers from a wide variety of territories.
Our playtxt platform does now support over 200 countries (and 4 times that many operators) for bidirectional SMS; this is important for our reach, to get access to countries that are not as far down the on-handset application route (i.e. Java/J2ME et al) as the usual suspects such as the UK, Germany, Italy et al.
As our signup rates in those other countries demonstrate, there is significant appetite for services as they are poorly served. Of course the challenge will be monetising these users effectively on an ongoing basis; but unlike the behaviour demonstrated by some big content players the last 24 months, we’re in for the long haul and in that respect we’re well placed to capture a large proportion of our target market and maintain the user relationships without abusing them. Eventually those users will have fancy phones with fancy apps – and our location based mobile instant messenger will be there ready to serve them well when it is.
Meanwhile (for those customers at least) it is back to the inconsistent, expensive and frustrating world of cross-network inter-connecting monochrome SMS delivery.