Mobile-phone texts might soon go the way of the Filofax, floppy disk and fax machine. Why? The rise of “over-the-top” (OTT) messaging. No, not overexcited missives filled with exclamation marks but rather internet-based platforms such as Whatsapp, Telegram and Signal. The end of old-school short-message services (SMS) might not mean much to users of those apps but it’s bad news for mobile-phone networks, which still make money from them. A new report by UK-based Juniper Research claims that the move away from texting could cost networks €2.8bn over the next five years.
Part of the reason is that SMS can’t compete with the alternatives. The new message market, however, remains fragmented. Apple’s iMessage features visual flourishes such as firework effects and “invisible ink” to deter over-the-shoulder peepers but they only work on iPhones. Both Android and iOS users can edit texts after they are sent but the two operating systems are incompatible with one another. Meanwhile, Google regularly berates Apple for not being part of the system that it uses.
The future of OTT is far from set. The Juniper Research report suggests that apps could introduce tiered pricing for businesses, charging extra for “mission-critical traffic” (as opposed to another uplifting video of a dog in a bumblebee costume). It also predicts big growth in OTT business messaging and suggests a future for the services as e-commerce channels with integrated payment services.
Perhaps there’s an upside to the eventual deletion of SMS: there’ll be one fewer thing to check. But as Whatsapp, Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), Facebook Messenger, Linkedin and others squabble over new features, many users will still hanker after a simple, reliable way to send notes to each other by phone – something like SMS. Get the message?
David Phelan is Monocle’s technology correspondent. For more opinions, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.
Political nepotism is a potent force in Southeast Asia. On Monday, Indonesia’s election commission cleared president Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s eldest son to run for vice-president in February’s election. The decision follows a controversial ruling by the country’s Constitutional Court that made an exception for Gibran Rakabuming Raka, who doesn’t meet the job’s minimum-age requirement.
The 36-year-old has been chosen as the running mate of veteran politician Prabowo Subianto – an alliance that clearly suits both families. Prabowo, whose lead in the opinion polls has widened since Gibran joined his ticket, will likely become president at his third attempt. In exchange, Jokowi secures long-term support for Indonesia’s new capital city, Nusantara, which is under construction in East Kalimantan. Disrupting Jakarta’s powerful political elite was meant to be Jokowi’s legacy. Instead, Indonesia might have a new family dynasty to contend with.
This week a delegation from Greece visited Turkey’s Ministry of National Defense in Ankara for a fresh round of talks on “confidence-building measures”. Haris Lalacos, secretary-general of Greece’s foreign ministry, and Yasar Güler, Turkey’s defence minister, reportedly discussed setting clearer boundaries in the Aegean Sea after decades of territorial disagreements, as well as establishing a safety distance between warships, identifying fighter-jet flights over the sea to prevent future incidents and opening communication lines between the countries’ respective military headquarters. The question of whether Turkey could extend its nautical borders further than six nautical miles from its coast went unanswered. However, the talks signal a further thaw in relations between Greece and Turkey ahead of December’s meeting between their leaders.
The fifth edition of the Chicago Architecture Biennial, North America’s largest contemporary design fair, explores how architecture can enhance metropolitan spaces. The latest iteration, titled “This Is a Rehearsal”, takes place across Chicago in venues such as the James R Thompson Center and features work by 86 architects and designers from 10 countries.
Events include an exhibition about the Altenheim Line, a defunct railway that runs through Chicago’s boulevard system, and a show at The Arts Club of Chicago curated by Kolkata-based visual artist Rathin Barman, examining the relationship between spaces and those who inhabit them. The biennial is expected to welcome 500,000 visitors from across the world but the hope is that Chicagoans will take the opportunity to appreciate what their city has to offer.
Monocle’s tips for where to shop and what to visit this week.
Giorgio Armani’s new unisex collection evokes the house’s 1980s style and sartorial androgyny. From cashmere coats to knitwear, the pieces, which come in a range of colours and silhouettes, explore modern themes of gender fluidity. The collection was launched exclusively at London’s Selfridges department store this week; it is also available from the company’s online shop.
The Abu Dhabi Louvre’s latest exhibition, Cartier, Islamic Inspiration and Modern Design, begins on 16 November and runs until 24 March 2024. It features more than 400 works, including textiles, jewellery and photographs, and highlights the effect of the Islamic arts on Cartier’s designs from the early 1900s to the present.
Louis Vuitton has launched its new Colormania Collection of luggage and accessories, which celebrates the art of travel. The travel bags, backpacks and smaller pieces are available online and in the brand’s shops. In a nice touch, they match the colours of the company’s City Guide series of books, which marks its 25th anniversary this year.
Basket-weaving is almost like a dance for Annemarie O’Sullivan, who bends willow to her will in her workshop near Lewes in southeast England. Monocle Films captured an afternoon in the studio with O’Sullivan, hearing about her sensory connection to the materials that she employs. Read more about this story in the latest issue of Konfekt. Purchase your copy today.