Members of the Mobile Internet Content Coalition (MICC) together with Public Knowledge, a public interest group working to defend the rights of consumers in “the emerging digital culture,” converged in Washington DC recently to discuss the lack of openness in mobile SMS commerce.
The educational briefing took place at the Arent Fox Law Offices in Washington and featured a panel of executives from MICC member companies, as well as Public Knowledge’s Michael Weinberg. The panel included Jeff Sass, VP of Myxer; Zaw Thet, CEO of 4INFO; Jed Alpert, CEO of Mobile Commons and Jared Reitzin, CEO of mobileStorm. The panel discussed the ways in which their respective organizations are using SMS messaging and the mobile Internet to engage the public, as well as the effect a lack of openness is having on the industry.
“300 million subscribers send 5 billion texts every day in the US, making text messages the largest volume means of communicating in the US,” said Jed Alpert, CEO of Mobile Commons. He noted that, in comparison, the most popular iPhone app has a 2% reach. “The problem is SMS aggregators are judge, jury, and executioner,” said Michael Weinberg of Public Knowledge. “They can shut down an SMS-based company’s lifeline at any time.”
“It’s a major worry in an industry that’s expensive and time-consuming,” added Jared Reitzin of mobileStorm. “While short codes can take up to 12 weeks to get up and going, you can log onto GoDaddy.com and have a website up within a day- how do you build and sell a company when you can get shut down at any time?” The panel argued the need for Internet access on mobile devices to be as seamless for consumers as traditional Internet access method, and was the driving force behind the creation of the Mobile Internet Content Coalition in the first place.