Mobile Operator Messaging Relevance Now Arguably Hinges on Google

Two developments illustrate a principle, where it comes to developing over the top messaging apps that have at least some carrier involvement. First, Google, which owns Jibe Mobile, appears to want to use rich communications services (RCS) as a messaging standard for Android devices.

So Google has joined wireless standards group GSMA and a host of global operators to launch an initiative to accelerate the adoption of RCS.

Operators including América Móvil, Bharti Airtel, Deutsche Telekom, Globe Telecom, Millicom, Orange, Sprint, Telenor Group, TeliaSonera, Telstra, Turkcell and Vodafone have agreed to transition to a single RCS standard, which will be supported by Android.

Google also will provide a universal RCS client based on Jibe for all the GSMA carriers.

Separately, the Joyn initiative started by GSMA, has gone nowhere. One example: alhough SK Telecom continues to push forward, KT and LG Uplus have ended their support for Joyn.

In fact, some might argue that Joyn--the GSMA effort to create a market-viable Rich Communications Suite (RCS) ecosystem--already is “dead.”

Launched in 2008, what became Joyn was launched by Nokia, Ericsson, Orange, NTT DoCoMo, SK Telecom, Telefónica, and TeliaSonera, with the intent of creating a vibrant ecosystem for rich communications experiences based on IMS (IP multimedia subsystem).

Joyn was supposed to be the carrier answer to Skype, Viber, WhatsApp, and all the other OTT messaging and voice apps.

It simply hasn’t worked. And one might argue that lack of effort or skill is not “why” Joyn arguably has failed. Carriers simply were too late, competing against apps with high value and much more traction.

The takeaway might well be that carriers--working alone or collectively--are not in a position to lead messaging, without key leadership by app or operating system partners.
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