Spanish mobile operators Movistar (Telefonica), Orange and Vodafone have simul-launched their Joyn service. By I.D. Scales.
This is the OTT-killer service suite promoted by the GSMA as Rich Communication Services (Joyn is the consumer facing brand) and is supposed to put the likes of Skype and WhatsApp on the back foot by making call enrichers (from a telco point of view) such as instant messaging, video and file transfer, part of the telco-delivered service.
Joyn gives users the ability to exchange messages, images and video during calls with any member of their contact list regardless of their network (as long as they've got Joyn, of course).
The operators also plan to make Joyn avaiable on fixed networks as well.
The first stage is to offer Joyn as an app on Android with iOS to follow, which is slightly ironic since one of Joyn's supposed USPs is that it 'just works' meaning there is no app download for a user to undertake.
The native 'just works' version of Joyn will be offered on phones sold next year.
The rest of the world will be watching the Spanish experience closely, of course, since it is the latest in a fairly long line of "let's stop the OTTs from getting all the attention" initiatives, most recently culminating in the disappointing performance of the Wholesale Applications Community (WAC) which was shuttered this year. Like Joyn it was essentially designed to wrest back user engagement from OTT players and, observers suspect because of this orientation, failed in the market.
Supporters claim that lessons have been learned now and that Joyn has been designed with users (not just telcos' revenue imperatives) in mind and that it will prove to meet many users real needs in a reliable way. It is essentially a follow-on to SMS for the smartphone age (although, since it is competing with the OTT players, it won't have SMS's huge revenue-raising abilities).
The GSMA will now be keen to push the federated national approach exhibited in Spain to the rest of the world where, so far, Joyn has just been picked up by individual telcos in Germany and the US (with MetroPCS).
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