China Telecom launches OTT messaging app

The operator push to reclaim status in messaging services has received impetus in China where China Telecom has launched its own proprietary instant messaging application dubbed YiChat.

The news comes as Chinese OTT player Tencent’s WeChat messaging app popular throughout China, topped over 300 million registered users in the nation.

According to the operator, YiChat differentiates itself from other social instant messaging applications by allowing users to send free text and voice messages to any mobile phone or free voice messages to fixed lines, without the need for YiChat to be installed on the receiving devices.

It also offers proprietary environmental noise reduction technology, high-quality photo messaging and various original emoticon designs, according to China Telecom. Moreover, all China Telecom users will be given additional free data promotional packages with their use of YiChat.

The messaging app was developed in joint venture with mobile content services provider NetEase.

William Ding, CEO and founder of NetEase, added that the partnership signals the start of NetEase’s entry into the mobile instant messaging space.

Elsewhere, the GSMA-backed RCS messaging app Joyn is live in nine countries worldwide, as of June 2012, with 14 operators in total having pledged to support the app. However, three out of ten mobile operators believe Joyn will not successfully compete with messaging service providers such as WhatsApp and Skype, according to research published earlier this month.

Also earlier this month, Telefónica Digital, the innovation arm of the Spanish incumbent telco, called time on its rich communication prototype, Tu Me, in favour of a version that is not bound to smartphones.

And in another move to signal danger for operators’ own OTT messaging apps, WhatsApp has announced it will launch an internet-based voice messaging service for users. The firm is releasing its Voice Messages feature on all of the smartphone platforms it supports simultaneously.


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