November 28, 2012, 2:34 PM — The largest European mobile operators are joining forces to launch their own instant messaging and content sharing applications under the "joyn" brand as they try to claw back some of traffic lost to Internet services.
On Wednesday, Spain became the first country in which multiple operators are offering joyn services, which allow their subscribers to communicate with each other. Movistar (owned by Telefónica), Orange and Vodafone participated in the launch.
Subscribers with Android-based smartphones can download an application and start sending instant messages to one or a group of users, share files and do one-way video sharing, which lets users show friends and colleagues what they are looking at using the phone, according to GSM Association.
The GSMA owns the joyn trademark and is in charge of developing the underlying technology.
The joyn services will be directly integrated with users' smartphone address books. The address books will indicate which contacts have a joyn-compatible smartphone and show the options that users have to communicate with them.
An application for the iPhone will become available soon. Smartphones with an embedded joyn client, which will eliminate the need to download a separate application, will become available in Spain in January as well, said Graham Trickey, senior director at GSMA.
"We have accredited devices from eight out of the top 10 biggest phone vendors" with the embedded client, Trickey said.
The two missing vendors are Apple and Motorola. Smartphones from Samsung Electronics, Huawei, HTC and LG Electronics have all been approved.
The simplicity of having an embedded client will help operators compete with existing services, according to Alex Nourouzi, director of product marketing at Orange.
Additional services such as IP-based video and voice calls will be introduced in the near future, the GSMA says.
In Germany, interconnected joyn services will become available to Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom subscribers in December, according to a spokesman at Deutsche Telekom
In 2013, services are also expected to be launched in France, Orange said.
In the U.S., MetroPCS has already launched joyn services.
"AT&T and Verizon are very much involved in the project and have been for many years. They are working towards a launch, but are not able to say anything at the moment," Trickey said.