Texas-based Genband, in the business of communications services for carriers, announced Thursday it was picking up Fring's Internet-based mobile Over the Top (OTT) communications service.
Genband, in this deal, fattens its cloud portfolio for the consumer market. Israel-based Fring has enjoyed status as having helped to change the way consumers communicate on the go. Fring got an early start in the business of mobile messaging and video applications for mobile phones. As such, the company was one of the very first to offer OTT services, though outdistanced by big competitors.
According to Fring, it nevertheless grew a community of "tens of millions" of users across 200 countries. Its services can be used with all major smartphones and tablets including iPhones and Android devices, on any mobile operator, and any mobile Internet connection.
In the most fundamental terms, what Genband gets out of the deal is the ability to showcase these types of services. Integrating Fring solutions means Genband can tell service providers and network operators, who need to evolve their communications services rapidly to ensure that they stay relevant and competitive, that they can now compete more effectively.
In saying that Genband snapped up Fring, snap appears to be an appropriate verb.
Quick Action in Large Fonts
Genband CEO David Walsh blogged that as "the heaps of fallen technology giants illustrate, inaction is a recipe for failure."
He said technology and telecommunications industries "are littered with cautionary tales of innovative companies surrendering market dominance due to their inability to react quickly enough" to new competitive forces.
It did not take Nostradamus, he added, "to see that more and more consumers are turning to the Web -- the so-called OTT or Over-the-Top community -- as a viable option for much of their real-time communications and messaging."
Actually, he said, with the "writing on the wall inscribed in large font, it's clear that network operators of all types need to respond in some manner to this OTT threat by incorporating a Web-based communications offering into their service portfolio."
Genband's assessment of the market is that the growing penetration of smartphones and affordable data plans has set the stage for a range of OTT communications solutions that allow free messaging, voice and video calls from anywhere, and this has brought a negative impact on revenues of service providers. Now service providers can embrace this new technology and quickly launch a service of their own.
Roy Timor-Rousso, CEO of Fring, said that after early successes licensing solutions to a number of wireless and other carriers, Fring recognized the power of combining with Genband. Timor-Rousso called carrier services Fring's growth engine.
Commenting on the acquisition, Brian Partridge, vice president of Yankee Group Research, said, "The reality for service providers moving forward is that their relevance is highly dependent on the quality of experience and choices they can deliver to their subscribers."
Partridge said service providers around the world, especially in Europe where roaming charges are high, must evolve their communications services rapidly to make sure they stay "relevant and competitive against disruptive OTT offerings while complementing and enhancing their existing services."