Orange Vallée, the French Group’s OTT ‘skunkworks’ operation, has announced an interesting upgrade to its Libon messaging service. Users can now engage with any device user (pretty-much) and attempt to initiate an instant messaging dialogue whether or not the user has Libon installed. It’s called Open Chat and it essentially just sends a URL (probably in an SMS, though it could be an email to a tablet or a PC) which the recipient can initiate to ‘upgrade’ to a full interactive instant chat session within a browser on a smartphone, tablet or PC.
Giles Corbett, Libon’s head, demonstrated the feature in action to me at MWC and it looks impressive. Once you fire up an HTML5 session from a recieved SMS you can do chatty extras such as include photos, audios, videos, bring in other chatters and so on. The results of the chat can be saved for each user on Libon’s server.
Clearly this approach is an attempt to create some ‘virality’ to the offer. One user texts a non-user, they have a session and the new participant likes it so much he or she downloads the app and keeps on using it. That’s the plan.
It’s also an interesting direction for Libon in what may become an increasingly HTML5 world as devices such as Firefox OS smartphones are introduced and Chrome OS takes hold. The concept of the ‘ad hoc’ chat session just floating on top of HTML for the length of the session might have ‘legs’ beyond the role of teasing a new user into downloading the app - it could be one way many users like their messaaging and maybe there’s even room in the market for a disappearing instant message conversation, along the lines of Snapchat?
Orange has announced that Libon, which is joyn compatible today, is to be the group’s consumer app for all joyn-enabled services at Orange.
“I would argue that we’re out in front of the telco OTTs,” Giles told me. Although it’s compatible with Joyn (the ‘advanced’ telco messaging standard) Libon is in no way tied to Orange. “It’s open to any carrier who wants to use it,” Giles tells me.