MWC 2012: GSMA To Counter Smartphone App Sprawl With Joyn

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

The GSMA is countering the duplication of smartphone apps by offering standardised, consolidated ‘rich communications’ instead

Smartphones seem to be used for anything other than actual voice communication nowadays and the GSMA , which represents mobile operators around the world, is promoting standards for the new services that are arising.

It has created the brand name of  ‘Joyn’ to help educate consumers to the advantages of its ‘rich communication services’ (RCS), which cover new must-have applications like instant messaging (IM), video calling, and IP-based telephony.

Richer communication services

There is little doubt that many of today’s smartphones are loaded down with a multitude of apps, many of which duplicate what should be the core functions of a communications device. The GSMA is looking to consolidate these apps and put them back under the control of the mobile network operators (MNOs). At Mobile World Congress, it revealed significant advancements in the development of RCS.

RCS is a concept that has been in the works for a few years now, and has been designed to encompass what the GSMA believes will be the next wave in personal mobile communications.

Essentially RCS will integrate seamlessly with the way consumers communicate and share their life experiences with each other.The technologies involved could be important for both consumers and MNOs.

For consumers, it will be a step beyond the traditional communication service (voice and SMS) by offering them instant messaging, or chat; video calling; and the ability to share documents and photos simultaneously with voice calls – all from the phone’s contact book, regardless of the network or device used.

For MNOs and manufacturers, the services offer standardised ways to make use of existing assets and infrastructure to deliver a high quality and innovative communications service to their customers.

“There is clear consumer demand for enriched messaging and voice services, and rich communications provides mobile network operators with solutions to address these consumer needs, as well as paving the way for future, innovative IP-based voice and messaging services,” said Anne Bouverot, director general of GSMA.

“These services will be delivered to consumers in a seamless way and with the level of innovation, quality of service, and attention to privacy that they have come to expect from their mobile operator,” she said.

To this end GSMA revealed significant advancements around the whole rich communications concept. It revealed that carriers around the globe are supporting RCS standards, including Orange (Everything Everywhere), Vodafone, Telefonica (O2), as well as Deutsche Telekom, KPN, Telecom Italia, TeliaSonera, Verizon and others. Orange, Telefonica and Vodafone are expected to launch a commercial RCS service in Spain this summer.

According to GSMA, device makers are increasingly climbing onboard with the RCS concept as well, with HTC, Huawei, LG, Nokia, Research In Motion, Samsung, Sony, and ZTE all announcing support of rich communications in their handsets.

New specification

GSMA also revealed a new global specification for the services and will represent the interests of a wide range of operators. RCS 5.0 will ensure that voice, messaging, and all future communication services continue to be available on both existing and all-IP LTE networks.

The specification will support services across mobile and fixed networks and includes features such as high quality IP-based voice and video calling; geo-location, where a user can push accurate location information to others on the call; cloud storage for customers to store all messages for secure access from any connected device; and live video in IM chat, in which video share can be introduced during an IM chat session.

Joyn Brand

The GSMA realises it has a job to do in order to educate smartphone users about the advantages of RCS and, in an effort to facilitate consumer recognition and understanding, it has developed the Joyn brand name.

According to GSMA, Joyn represents “ubiquity, security, service quality and interconnection and will be available for operators to use in order to give one global ‘face’ to RCS services”.

The idea is that, through Joyn branding on phones, users will know the device is RCS-enabled , which means it automatically “knows and shows” ways to share information with contacts via chat, video, voice call or transmitted files.

“Joyn will act as a mark of assurance to customers that they will have simple and direct access to enriched voice and messaging services wherever they are and whatever network they are using,” said Bouverot. “Our key message is:  it’s just there, it just works.”

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