Joyn broken says survey

Aug 15, 2013

It was supposed to be the grown-up telco answer to OTT VoIP and messaging services, but after seven years of 'design-by-committee', instead of beating back the likes of Skype, Viber, WhatsApp and of course Facebook, the telco standard has resulted in just a few isolated launches and an indifferent reception from users. Far from Joyn being a mobile network monetiser - where it's available it's not even been that easy to give away.

So why?

New research by mobilesquared and mobile interaction service provider tyntec seems to show that MNOs don't believe Joyn is their saviour .

According to the researchers, of the 40 or so MNOs and MVNOs only 7 per cent now believe Joyn is the solution to combat the threat of Over The Top (OTT) voice and messaging services. A further 29 per cent say they believe that Joyn had the potential to be the solution, but it has taken too long to launch — seven years from concept to commercial launch compared to six months for WhatsApp.

In fact a full 29 per cent believe that Joyn is, flatly, not the solution and more than a third (36 per cent) are uncertain of the impact the GSMA-based standard will have on their ability to tackle OTT players.

Who, exactly, are they worried about? Not surprisingly, 36 per cent of operators believe WhatsApp presents the greatest threat followed by Google and Facebook, which both received 21 per cent each, Apple was feared by 14 per cent and Skype by 7 per cent which suggests that, under MS control, it's seen as a likely partner rather than a disrupter.

Why do they think Joyn can't perform? The scale problem mostly. In further questioning operators felt that for Joyn to match the OTTs it would need a global footprint, which would only be achieved if every mobile operator signed up... which is clearly not going not happen. So in effect Joyn was doomed from the start - as will, on that logic, every other telco initiative attempting to build a single federated service model.

I suspect the truth is that seven years ago operators thought they would be able to block, degrade, market against or surcharge competing OTT services so that, in the best Marlon Brando tradition, they could make users an RCS offer they couldn't refuse. Then came staunch net neutrality.

Now without the blocking option, initiatives like Joyn will never stack up. The only alternative is to (ah-hem) join the OTTs by partnering, or to go OTT themselves and compete head-on but at scale and with a broad footprint.

Indeed the interest in providing OTT-type services is on the increase amongst MNOs/MVNOs, with 36 per cent of mobile operators partnering with OTT providers, up from 32 per cent in 2012. Many others are looking to launch their own OTT or hybrid OTT/telco services.

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