A few more European mobile service providers are jumping into the over the top voice and messaging app business. In Spain, Movistar, Orange (News - Alert) and Vodafone, Spain's three leading mobile service providers, have launched "Rich Communication Services" using the "joyn" brand.
That makes Spain the first country in the world to offer a fully interoperable carrier-owned over the top voice and messaging app, meaning that any customers of any of the mobile service providers can communicate with each other.
In Germany, Deutsche Telekom (News - Alert) and Vodafone both support joyn as well.
In many ways, "Joyn" illustrates the complexity of the challenge service providers’ face in a world of IP networks, where it always is possible to create third party apps that work on any IP-based network.
Faced with new competition from over the top voice and messaging apps that cannibalize core carrier revenue, you might be tempted to say that carriers "must" respond by launching their own OTT apps.
In some cases, that raises a large risk of rapidly cannibalizing what remains of the legacy revenue stream, though. Losing a formerly core revenue stream is bad enough. Losing it rapidly is worse.
So it sometimes makes more sense to allow some amount of attrition, while doing what is possible to slow the decline. The model is long distance, where the strategy essentially followed by AT&T (News - Alert) was simply to control the rate of descent, buying time to formulate a new revenue model.
In other cases, the erosion might be far enough advanced that adopting OTT makes more sense, as the legacy revenue stream already is smaller. That's part of the thinking behind adoption of joyn.
The idea is that joyn will allow mobile service provides to create a very large community of users, with access to "rich" voice and messaging ("rich" generally implies support for video) features. So both "scale" and "feature richness" are viewed as part of the strategy.
The level of competition in a given market tends to suggest whether mobile service providers should offer their own OTT apps, or avoid doing so.
In markets where voice and messaging revenue already is sharply declining, competing might be the only choice. In other markets, where there is less pressure, service providers generally will resist jumping into branded OTT voice and messaging apps, to avoid cannibalizing carrier voice and messaging.
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Edited by Brooke Neuman