O2 Ireland said on Monday that the platform will enable businesses to reach more than 100 million mobile phone users in Ireland, the UK, the Netherlands and Germany, regardless of their mobile phone network and from a single point of contact. O2 claimed that it was the first operator to offer such as service.
"Up until now, companies wanting to use premium and standard text messages for marketing purposes have had to make individual arrangements with different network operators or third-party providers, which has meant customers having to use different codes and/or methods to access them," said Campbell Scott, product director with O2 Ireland parent company mmO2. "With this platform, you only have to speak to one operator and any mobile user, regardless of whether they are an O2 customer or not, can use the services offered."
According to O2, its so-called Premium Services Platform will support a range of business applications including SMS marketing, mobile worker management, and CRM. Scott said that uses of the platform to date include text voting for the recent television series, "I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here," and by the RAC to inform customers via mobile phone about how long it will take breakdown vehicles to get to them.
Scott added that he expected the move to open up the SMS marketing market to SMEs. "Previously, high cost and lack of technical expertise has prevented many companies, particularly smaller ones, from optimising the mobile medium, but these problems are addressed by the simplicity of the O2 platform," he remarked.
The service will be initially targeted at the broadcast and media sectors and will eventually be extended to the financial services, transport, and utilities markets.
Scott said that he expected the platform to earn O2 "tens of millions" of euro over the next few years, and that the O2 Group anticipated signing-up "hundreds" of service providers across Europe. As well as being available in the countries where O2 has a presence, Scott said that O2 will also look after the necessary arrangements in nations where it does not have a footprint.
SMS marketing is being used more and more by businesses. Recent research has found that over 500,000 Irish people have received advertising/marketing messages through their mobile phones, while Ovum has predicted that the premium SMS market in Western Europe will be worth USD6.6 billion by the end of 2004.