For the most part, we are able to identify, with a high level of credibility, the source of an incoming text or call. But over the past few years, our communications devices – whether landline or mobile, voice, or text – are under attack by robocalls. This is especially true in the voice world. It’s gotten so bad that legitimate businesses are suffering because people don’t answer their phone calls anymore.

Normally, each year in the dead of winter, I publish a predictions article about the coming year. Earlier this year, we published my 12th consecutive predictions for the mobile industry. However, today, I would like to dust off the crystal ball and push it a little bit further into the future to look at how the messaging industry might evolve over the coming five to 10 years.

First, we as a messaging industry need mobile operator support for Universal Profile 2.0 – and quickly. In 2018, we had strong messaging provider and aggregator support for RCS, but only a smattering of operators launched support for UP 2.0. The GSMA notes that around 75 mobile operators have launched RCS, but the vast majority of these are UP 1.0 support only. Remember, this time around it is the enterprise/brand (A2P) RCS that is driving this new SMS replacement. It is supported by all the top messaging providers that manage over 80% of the world’s A2P (or B2C if you want) SMS messaging. These are the companies that have the enterprises, banking/financial, travel industries, logistics, social/entertainment, consumer brands, and more that are already using messaging.

Here we go again. This is the 12th consecutive edition of my mobile industry predictions, originally published in January of 2008. While we try to cover most major aspects of the mobile industry, we do tend to emphasize messaging-related topics as well as consumer engagement. But we also focus on key industry trends such as devices, mobile payments, and blockchain. If a trend begins to fall out of favor, then it may disappear from subsequent predictions. You can get a detailed review and accounting of my 2018 predictions here.

Just over a year ago, I was an RCS (rich communications service) skeptic. A big one! Meaning: I thought that the RCS standards were too fragmented, a waste of time, and too little, too late; that they wouldn’t make an impact on enterprise/brand messaging, among other thoughts. Certainly, the RCS opportunity has been lost for person-to-person messaging, with the overtaking of SMS by various messaging chat apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, Snapchat, and others. However, since Mobile World Congress 2017, I have started to believe that there may be, at last, hope for RCS – especially as a primary channel for conversational messaging for brands and enterprises.

Mobile World Congress (MWC) is the record-breaking annual get-together of over 108,000 attendees in Barcelona, Spain, interested in mobile, 5G, connected cars, devices, augmented reality, virtual reality, cloud computing, IoT, and much, much more. As I do most years, I attended (I believe this might have been my ninth). MWC is the most important event for the mobile-focused industry. This year, the theme was “Mobile: The Next Element.”   The idea of this theme was to “reflect the elemental role of mobile in the lives of billions of people around the world.”  While I was quite busy with over 15 meetings and discussions in our massive (and popular) SAP stand, I was able to walk around occasionally during the 4 days to try to get a better understanding of this year’s major themes.

Over the last 4 to 5 years, the world has witnessed a meteoric rise of a variety of Over-the-top (OTT) messaging apps – both for consumers and enterprises.  Today, there are a dizzying variety of texting choices — most of them operating as “islands” (albeit some are exceedingly large – WhatsApp with over 500 million monthly active users [MAUs] is a prime example); however, in some markets such as the United States and Canada, SMS-interoperable OTT messaging solutions have garnered the majority share of OTT messaging apps (we call these SMS-enabled OTT messaging providers: NUVOs – for Network Unaffiliated Virtual Operators).