SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus in South Korea are launching joyn services to combat inroads being made by over-the-top messaging services. At first, each carrier will operate joyn as a service available only to users of its own network, but interoperability between the three carriers is expected in 2013.
joyn, the brand created to support Rich Communication Services (RCS), allows customers to make Internet-based voice calls and video calls and send chat messages as well. Joyn supports individual and group messages of up to 5,000 characters, Yonhap news service reports.
In South Korea, KakaoTalk is among the rival services mobile service providers must contend with.
The service is initially available on 22 different types of Android phones, and can be downloaded from each operator’s app store for free. SKT says it will announce extended Android support and an iOS version early in 2013.
Messages to non-users will be sent as text messages, as is the case with Apple’s iMessage service, while a PC-based version is slated to launch in Korea in the first quarter of the new year.
SKT says the service will be free for users of its flat-rate 3G and LTE tariffs. For all other customers, chat and text messages will be charged at 20 won ($0.02) and video calling upward of 0.6 won per second (about $0.03 per minute).
Some think joyn will face major obstacles. KakaoTalk has more than 70 million users worldwide and, in its native Korea, is installed on more than 90 percent of the country’s smartphones.
Smartphone messaging apps are hugely popular across Asia. Alongside KakaoTalk, China’s WeChat (near 300 million users) and Japan’s Line (85 million users) have grown massively in 2012. Of course, the issue is less the installed base of apps but the volume of WhatsApp messages being sent and received by mobile users.
Edited by Rachel Ramsey