Just about two weeks ago I was attending the ITU Telecom World where I joined Dean Bubley's panel and then moderating the TADS Summit in Bangkok, Thailand. Bangkok is an interesting place and my mobile experience, not only with a SIM but seeing how mobile centric that part of the world is, even more than what I experience in Europe or the USA exposed me to a lot of new ideas, as the TADS Summit served to reaffirm many forward looking ideas I've had about WebRTC and OTT.
The biggest concept I heard expressed was "Fast Fail" an approach that developer and early stage entrepreneurs have taken on. Being the optimist, I immediately spun that into the idea of succeed soon. And that's where WebRTC is. It has to succeed soon and the companies working to develop new method of communications have to learn that failing fast doesn't mean giving up. It means doing it better, and succeeding sooner.
OTT apps like WhatsApp and Line have succeeded soon and continue to grow. They are taking revenue away from the major telcos on one side (the SMS market) but at the same time shifting costs to other networks or the network side of the telco, while reducing the telcos labor and overhead cost.
Thus I would contend that OTT services like WebRTC don't really replace the carrier, they simply shift the burden of operating and delivering the service from the service provider to being the carrier while someone else operates the service. This is not much different from a concessionaire serving food inside a stadium while the landlord collects a piece of the action without having to buy the food or staff the stands.
The more a carrier opens up their network to OTT players and lets them take on the burden of building the audience, managing the relationship, and the less marketing the carrier or mobile operator has to do, the more profitable they can become because they can invest in technology that makes them better and more competitive versus their competitors, while providing the best field of play for the newcomers who use software and smarts vs. hardware and brawn to power their business.
The best and most profitable carriers will be the ones who embrace the new OTT players, find ways to incorporate WebRTC technology into their platforms or simply open up their pipe and network to let them in so they can carry more traffic.
Isn't that what carriers should be doing?