Telcos have had very mixed success with their efforts to create mobile app stores and important, widely-used over the top apps.
For that matter, telcos generally gave up trying to create devices some time ago. Not many can recall it, but once upon a time, when AT&T (News - Alert) was still a monopoly (pre-1984) all phones were built and supplied directly by the “phone company” in the U.S. market.
Those devices were built by Western Electric, the manufacturing arm of the telephone company, and it literally was illegal to attach any non-Western Electric device to the network.
In a somewhat similar manner, most really successful apps generally are created by third parties these days. But that doesn’t mean all telcos will stop trying to move up the value chain.
Telefónica Digital is perhaps the best example of a tier-one global telco trying very hard to create important new apps, something Telefónica hinted at when it acquired Jajah.
Telefónica Digital already has launched a VoIP platform called “TuMe,” constructed out of the JahJah (News - Alert) acquisition, which provides free calls and messaging between members. Tu Me has no direct revenue model, at the moment, but is envisioned as a possibly important out of market growth platform.
“TuGo” is coming next. TuGo users will be able to move their mobile number into the cloud, using a service that routes incoming calls to whatever device they happen to be using as well as supporting outgoing calls from that device to any phone, but billed to the customer’s own account.
TuGo redefines the customer; they are no longer subscribing to a mobile telephone service, they're subscribing to a phone number which will drift between mobile and fixed networks as best suits them. In coming iterations of the service, Telefónica envisions the ability to create entirely new personalities and functions for any smartphone using HTML5 capabilities.
In the meantime, TuGo will provide functionality that would properly be considered "unified communications," and takes advantage of cloud computing to create a new service featuring a numbering resource that is independent of device and network. The degree of possible success remains to be seen, but Telefónica Digital is pushing about as hard as any tier one service provider can, to become a player in over the top apps.
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Edited by Brooke Neuman