It's not often that telecoms operators and over-the-top (OTT) players agree when it comes to telco business models.
In public forums we sometimes see apparent accord between the two sides of the industry, with both parties on the stage concurring that they could work together for mutual benefit. However, it is relatively rare for anything concrete to come of those outward displays of harmony.
On Tuesday at Mobile World Congress, Talmon Marco, CEO of OTT messaging specialist Viber, called on telcos to work with his company, by processing billing transactions, for example, and to take revenue share in the process. Deutsche Telekom CEO Rene Obermann signalled that he is in favour of such a relationship, saying he would be ″willing to sit down tomorrow″ to discuss it.
Whether or not that actually happens is another matter.
However, the two executives also found themselves on the same side of the fence regarding Telefonica's bid to carve itself out a bigger slice of the OTT pie through its Telefonica Digital venture.
Such a venture could be a good move for a telco, ″if you are prepared to take the structural consequences,″ a sceptical-looking Obermann said, in response to a question about Telefonica Digital.
But it requires a lot of time and a lot of resources, he pointed out, adding: ″Eventually you might end up being competitive in that space.″
Unsurprisingly, Marco was even less impressed by the Telefonica Digital concept.
He described TU Me, the OTT voice and messaging app launched by Telefonica Digital nine months ago, as ″a nice try″.
″These services are not taking off,″ he said, referring to telco OTT offers in general.
And regarding TU Me: ″They probably invested more money than we have,″ he quipped.