Voice is Still the Critical App for Operators

Convergence Corner

Voice is Still the Critical App for Operators

By Erik Linask, Group Editorial Director  |  March 04, 2015

It may not be the revenue stream it used to be, but voice remains a critical communications medium. A recent survey conducted by Voxox of OTT communications app users showed that, with a sample size of more than 2,000 respondents, 82 percent indicated voice is the feature they use most. In an age where texting has become pervasive, this is a telling statistic, and it’s why Voxox is pushing its own communications app to operators globally, who have finally started to understand they can’t compete with OTT apps, but must embrace them to avoid becoming the dumb pipes which will erode any growth opportunities.

Certainly, there are countless apps already available, but most have focused on messaging, looking to benefit from the growth of the text-based communications market. It’s not surprising; anyone with young children can likely attest to the challenges of getting kids to answer phone calls, while they are highly likely to respond to texts and IMs almost instantly. The problem: Those kids don’t pay the bills.

And there are very popular and recognized brands like Skype (News - Alert) and WhatsApp. Skype includes voice and video communications, and WhatsApp has been developing a voice component, and both have some great smileys and emoticons to use within their messaging capabilities. What they’re missing are the business features that are in demand today. In fact, nearly half of the respondents indicate crossover usage, meaning they leverage the Voxox app for business and personal communications.

 “When operators are looking to partner with an app developer, these are the features that can be charged for and that’s the whole point of the partnerships,” says Tristan Barnum (News - Alert), CMO at Voxox. “It’s not just about games and smileys – there are real business reasons for providing these apps, and these business features that aren’t available in other OTT apps are a huge opportunity for operators.”

This is where Voxox outshines the other popular apps, offering not only the messaging and sharing features, but also the business features that make it a flexible two-way solution. You can look through the Android (News - Alert) Play Store or Apple’s iTunes and find countless messaging and sharing apps, but none of them offer fax integration, conference calling, and other business features that Voxox has built into its app to deliver what may well be a currently unbeatable breadth of features.

In addition, operators can tie the white-labeled app into other hosted or cloud-based phone services, adding a feature-rich mobility element. While Barnum wouldn’t comment on integration with Voxox’s Cloud Phone hosted PBX (News - Alert), she did indicate the Cloud Phone and Voxox have been built on the same platform. It’s hard to imagine a tight integration between the two not being in the works.

“I think there is a lot of money in the business market, and there is a lot of blending between personal communications and business needs,” says Barnum.

Importantly, it is younger working adults that acknowledge this mix of behaviors: 71 percent of respondents are 19-35 years old. Even though text-based communications may be used more frequently than voice, the generation that has driven that market has also acknowledged the value of voice.

Naturally, one of the reasons for the increased voice usage is this respondent pool also likely has a high rate of cord-cutting. As such, 52 percent say they use the app primarily for calling local friends. Local texting has a higher usage frequency, at 59 percent, but that is hardly a significant difference.

With Voxox, though, the opportunity for operators lies in targeting the business market. It will be difficult – if not impossible – for them to compete with the Skypes and WhatsApps of the world in the consumer market. Rather, their point of entry has to be business looking to increase their mobile capabilities, which will then lead to increased use for personal communications, and recommending the app to friends and family members, so they can all leverage the cost-free in-network features (the app will communicate equally well with members and non-members, but there is a low (lower than other apps, according to Barnum) cost for communications with non-members.

All of this is critical for operators to understand because Voxox offers an opportunity for operators to take back some of the revenue that have been ceding to OTT apps, leveraging not only their network infrastructure, but also their traditional strength as voice providers.

Edited by Maurice Nagle