Sybase 365, one of the largest providers of SMS and MMS messaging, is now getting into the push notification business through a partnership with Urban Airship (see disclosure below), which will allow it to offer enterprise customers app-based push messaging.
This is yet another sign of the growth of over-the-top messaging services that utilize mobile data services on smartphones. While companies have often relied on SMS through providers like Sybase 365 to interact with consumers, marketers are evolving with their consumers, who are spending more time in apps on smartphones. With the Sybase Push 365 messaging service, Sybase 365 can offer a full suite of mobile messaging services beyond just text messages.
Under the partnership, Urban Airship will provide Sybase 365 with developer tools and resources to help its customers integrate push messaging into their apps. Sybase 365 customers will also get an online dashboard to create and analyze their messages. Interestingly, Sybase 365 said it will also be offering the services to its 900 carrier customers and OEM partners.
Greg Dunn, VP of product strategy at Sybase 365, told me he doesn’t see the addition of push notifications as a threat to traditional SMS and MMS messaging. Instead, he said it gives marketers another tool to interact with consumers. Push notifications have unique capabilities that allow companies to send out more dynamic messages than SMS with rich media, longer text lengths and the ability to redirect a user to any point in an application.
For Urban Airship, the partnership should provide a big bump in usage. Sybase 365 delivers 1.8 billion SMS and MMS messages a day. Urban Airship notched its 10 billionth message in January after launching in 2009 and now the company is up to 19 billion messages sent.
Though Dunn believes that traditional text messaging will continue to grow, I have to believe that the rise of in-app messaging will help slow that growth. We’re already seeing some operators with declining SMS revenue thanks to messaging apps. Sybase 365 is smart to prepare for a day when marketers send more messages through push notifications, which are cheaper than traditional text messages. This won’t happen immediately and text messages will still serve a role for enterprise customers. But as the world moves toward more in-app communication for both text and voice, that means companies like Sybase 365 have to adapt.
Disclosure: Urban Airship is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of this blog, Giga Omni Media. Om Malik, the founder of Giga Omni Media, is also a venture partner at True.