While Vodafone is putting some of its money on RCS as a network based rich services platform with open APIs to enable premium content and service developers (see this blog’s post on Vodafone’s recent investment in Jibe Mobile), (Telefonica owned start-up with very deep pockets) seems to be taking almost the reverse approach.app for messaging
In close , Telefonica Digital is pioneering the HTML5 path, which is characterised by a complete de-coupling of consumer services from the access network, or even the mobile device. Telefonica’s reasoning must have been: “If disintermediation is going to hit the mobile industry after all, we better be the ones doing it.”
If the paradigm works, this is what it will look like. The only thing a consumer will need from their (mobile) operator is internet access. They will have an HTML5 enabled device, running for example Mozilla’s Firefox OS, enabling server based HTML5 communication applications to access its underlying voice, video and messaging capabilities. No apps would be running on the device, except for maybe a search app such as the one provided by Everything.me, a company that just announced a
All existing mobile value chains would be disrupted in this scenario, with a full smartphone experience running on low specification (i.e. low cost) ‘netphones.’ Extreme levels of flexibility and openness would effectively cut mobile operators out of the communication services value chain, but also put an end to the dominance of Google’s and Apple’s app stores and associated Operating Systems.
Only time will tell to what extent the full disintermediation scenario will play out, but Telefonica Digital seems to be well underway. With its first OTT service, TuMe, it is serving mostly users of other operators’ networks. The next service that Telefonica has announced, TuGo, will take the concept a step further, giving consumers a phone number that they can use to log on to cloud based telephony and messaging services from the device and access network of their choice. With the first Firefox OS devices planned to hit the market during the first quarter, who knows what will be next…!