SK Telecom Joyns the fold

South Korean operator SK Telecom has become the latest carrier to throw its weight behind the GSMA’s Joyn initiative after announcing the availability of its joyn.T rich communications service to subscribers.

The Joyn proposition, announced by GSMA at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last year, is the group’s response to the increasing popularity of network independent, OTT messaging applications. It has been designed to bring added functionality to voice call and messaging services in an integrated manner regardless of network and device.

Jae W. Byun, CTO of SK Telekom is speaking at the LTE World Summit, the premier 4G event for the telecoms industry, taking place on the 24th-26th June 2013, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands. Click here to download a flyer for the event.

SK Telecom’s version of the service allows users to share video content and send image files, location and contact information during a call.

It also allows users to send and receive text messages while facilitating real-time chat, or group chat. In addition, the service offers a “rich phonebook” and users can check the presence of contacts in their address book in real time and update their own status and profile.

In November 2012, Spain’s three largest operators: Movistar, Orange and Vodafone, began offering the Joyn service to subscribers. At the time Michael O’Hara, chief marketing officer at the GSMA, said that operators around the world would benefit from the leading efforts of the Spanish operators.

He explained that by developing the solution for their customers, the Spanish operators have been able to share their experience with other operators that are part of the RCS programme, helping to reduce the time-to-market for the service.

In December, Silicon Valley startup Jibe Mobile also received $8.3m financing from Vodafone to help make the Joyn service compete better with the likes of Skype and WhatsApp.

However, not everyone believes the future is bright for Joyn. Dean Bubley, founder of Disruptive Analysis, has suggested that the initiative will fail to generate enthusiasm among users, as well as the wider operator community.

“Apple won’t play ball. Google and Microsoft will be ambivalent at best. There’s no clear business model beyond “adding value” to bundles, which depends on the service being valuable in the first place,” he said in a blog post late last year.

“There’s a high chance of execution risk that could make it worse-than-useless. I have seen no arguments about how to win back users from WhatsApp, Line, KakaoTalk etc, all of which are better and faster-evolving than RCS.”

SK Telecom is offering the service on 22 different types of Android smartphones and an Apple iOS version of the service will also be launched in the coming months.

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