Zamano scoops up UK SMS business
by John Cradden
Irish mobile services company Zamano has acquired the SMS business of UK-based Avoca Communications in a bid to open up the UK market for its text services.
The merger provides Zamano with a direct connection to 10 premium-rate SMS shortcodes covering all four UK mobile network operators. The company declined to release any financial details regarding the transaction.
The Irish wireless technology developer, which merged in July with another Dublin-based wireless developer m-iSphere, is focusing strongly on the UK market, which it says is 20 times the size of the Irish market. "This opens up the entire UK market for Zamano's successful value added text services, including games, voting, competitions and payment solutions," said Sean Mac Reamoinn, Zamano's managing director. "It also allows our existing partners to extend their reach across the UK and further strengthens our relationships with the UK network operators, many of whom are already customers."
The company now employs nearly 25 people, including two in the UK. Following the purchase, Zamano's hosting and development centre will continue to be based in Ireland, while sales and customer service will be the main focus of its expanding UK operation.
The UK market is still somewhat behind Ireland in terms of adoption of premium rate SMS numbers, where the sector has experienced "exponential growth" since the first numbers were released by the telecoms regulator earlier this year, according to Zamano commercial director John O'Shea. Such numbers have only been introduced in the UK this year as well.
O'Shea said that the UK focus is vital for the company as there are too many small mobile Internet companies in Ireland. He said revenue growth in Britain would be achieved through a mixture of organic growth and acquisitions similar to that of Avoca's SMS business.
The company offers the full package for those who wish to avail of premium rate number services, including applications for competitions, chat, games, on-line payment and electronic polling as well as the connection to premium rate numbers, which have 5 digits. The solution is particularly cost effective for small and medium sized businesses, said O'Shea.
Zamano provides mobile applications that span SMS, WAP, GPRS and 3G phone systems, with games a particularly big money-spinner for many wireless application developers. According to research carried out by Forrester, 45 percent of mobile subscribers in Europe will regularly pay to play games on their phone by 2005. The same research predicted that global spending on mobile games could total EUR4.4 billion by 2006.