Surprise, Telefonica launches globally an OTT all-in-one communication app !

Almost a year ago, in June 2011, I published a post titled “Group messaging the next big thing to invest in and deploy“, I was talking about “2011 is the year of group texting” : $35M invested in startups (GroupMe, TextPlus, Kik and Yobongo) at least, two internet giants, Facebook and Skype, bought respectively Beluga and GroupMe, and above all Apple and Samsung, the two major leaders in the smartphone industry launched their own messaging over IP service : iMessage and ChatOn.

By that time, I was already talking about messaging over IP (MoIP) is not a service by itself but a core feature of an “over-the-top” (OTT) mobile communication service.

Like always the question is not whether MoIP is an important feature blah blah… but if OTT-over internet services/apps would succeed over cellular network-based services.
Just want to remind you that an OTT service operates over data (3Gx/4G) and is not tied to carrier’s xMS or voice services. This kind of service can work regardless of which carrier you are on or with.
Obviously in 2011, these OTT messaging services were launched mostly by mobile handset and platform vendors.
In the mean time, the mobile carrier industry, thanks to the GSMA, was working on a telco-standardized equivalent : the Rich Communication Suite initiative, named commonly RCS, focsued on the use of IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystems) for providing enhanced mobile comm servives (messaging, video sharing and enhanced contacts compared to what we have today). It’s not really here yet : complex to federate all the participants around the same table, have the same goals when mobile services world are taking the fast lane thanks to mobile handset (Apple, Samsung) and internet giants (Facebook, Google).What is the result between these 2 opportunities ? OTT com services (VoIP+MoIP) vs. current network services (or tomorrow RCS)
For one or even two years, the carrier industry has been seeing declines in common telco revenues, voice and xMS (OTT’s to burn 40% SMS revenue by 2015 and voice revenues would decline 21% in 3 years on average), because end users are shifting to OTT cost-effective or free alternatives. All major European telcos are facing this new interest coming from app stores/markets success and must find some agressive time-to-market alternatives. Unfortunately RCS is only taking its first steps in major launches.
That’s why Telefonica has thought differently the question by not opposing the two approaches but by launching them both, one globally, TU Me iPhone app (and Android would follow), and an other in Germany with RCS-e (with other German carriers).

In a nutshell, TU Me service is a response to let end users make calls, send voice messages, instant messages, photos and your location from one single easy-to-use app. For the first time, Telefonica is deploying globally this service thanks to Apple AppStore, and tomorrow Google Play and probably its own app shops. TU Me is an internet-centric app positioned as a low-end “techno-savvy” service bundled with low-cost offers, providing attractiveness to unlimited offers with no contract and no subsidy.

Indeed, “TU Me is the the direct response to OTT services such as Viber, Skype and WhatsApp, which provide similar functionality”, said Telefónica. I’m adding Nimbuzz (VoIP+instant messaging) and TextOne, Kakao Talk, Katango, Kik… (MoIP or group messaging) and the well-known originator, Blackberry Messenger or BBM.
This move shows that Telefonica doesn’t want to see its subscribers to switch to OTT competitive services. Telefonica prefers to provide some low-cost over-IP services to its subscriber base. Probably Telefonica subscribers won’t leave and would be more loyal.
To go further, I’m pushing Telefonica or any other carrier to go beyond and explore some new features like federation between MoIP services, provided between major telco companies, or email federation in order to open discussions with any email address. Like Disruptive Wireless I’m expecting to see rapidly service providers enter this particular space : carriers targeting techno-savvy people through low-cost offer, or even niche offerings targeting particular groups of people.
Let’s see how it goes but it’s a surprising move, but well-thought…
Read other articles discussing about federation and XMPP :
Telefónica Digital, the global business unit announced by Telefónica back in September to spearhead the telecom company’s digital growth, has launched a new mobile app called Tu Me.
The app is […]

Credits: Telefonica by ZaCky ॐ


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