It has only been about a year since Vodafone (News - Alert) Spain became the first operator to officially launch joyn, also known as Rich Communication Services (RCS), but the GSMA-based standard has already made some headway — and in one of the most unlikely places.
South Korean SK Telecom (News - Alert) recently reached one million users of its joyn.T service in only 50 days after its launch. One of only a handful of operators to announce its joyn user numbers thus far, SKT didn't give details on how many of its one million joyn.T subscribers are active users.
This news is both significant and timely, coming around the time of Mobile World Congress (News - Alert). Indeed, according to SKT, the GSMA has stated that the success of the joyn.T launch may ultimately accelerate the commercialization of joyn around the world.
This news is particularly noteworthy, however, because South Korea is also home to KakaoTalk, which was among the first over-the-top messaging apps to be launched back in March 2010. Boasting more than 75 million downloads, KakaoTalk is still very widely used in the country to the point that some have speculated that it might completely replace SMS in South Korea. Of course, though, it is the success of OTT applications like KakaoTalk that led to the creation of Joyn.
Currently, it seems that many subscribers in South Korea may switch over to joyn.T, but KakaoTalk has fired back with the release of special branded emoticons and games, even going so far as to release a global publishing platform to allow for the creation of more exclusive content.
On the flipside, SKT has extended the availability of joyn.T as an unlimited "free-for-life" service for subscribers on flat-rate data plans. Data usage associated with joyn.T will also be free, including delivering messages to non-joyn.T subscribers. Furthermore, the network operator plans to link the service to its HD Voice VoLTE service, while opening up its joyn.T APIs to small and medium-sized enterprises.
It's too early to tell if SKT's strategy will work, however, as KakaoTalk has had years to develop its messaging service, which is available on every major mobile platform.
Edited by Rachel Ramsey