& cplSiteName &

Libon Liberates Orange From RCS

Sarah Thomas
2/25/2014
50%
50%

BARCELONA -- Mobile World Congress -- If I were an Orange employee this week, I'd have a hard time restraining myself from going around to other operator booths yelling, "Look, it can be done! You can build a successful OTT app without waiting for standards!"

I'd probably get trampled by one of those giant Android creatures, but hopefully they'd hear my message.

Point being, Salt SA 's Libon app is a refreshing example of how an operator can support an industry standard, Rich Communications Service (RCS), without being stalled waiting for everyone else to get on board as well. (See Orange Launches Libon Open Chat .)

The carrier's innovation arm, Orange Vallée, launched the voicemail-oriented app back in November 2012 as a response to OTT players such as Skype Ltd. , as well as fellow operators like Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF), which had a similar over-the-top app Tu Me that was ultimately shut down last August, citing lack of use. (See Orange Finds Its Web Services Voice and Telefónica: Tu Me Has Got To Go.)

Lack of use isn't a problem Orange has had with Libon, according to its creator, Giles Corbett. The ratio of active users to registrants is more than 50% and of daily to monthly users greater than 30%, he said. He wouldn't reveal how many users are on the app, as he admitted it would look puny compared to WhatsApp's 450 million, but it's enough to prove an operator app can be a real contender. (See Innovation Makes Life Better for Orange and Facebook to Acquire WhatsApp for $16B.)

Helping to grow that number is its latest update which adds messaging to Libon's voice service and lets users connect with others on any operator, regardless of what service they are on. Dubbed OpenChat, the app lets a Libon user IM a contact on SMS, WhatsApp, or another service provided they have an HTML5 browser on their device. If the recipient isn't on Libon, the chat will include a link to a webpage where the chat can continue free and over-the-top of the network. From the link, non-users will be encouraged to join, but it's not required, and the chat stays active indefinitely.

This is just the next step in Libon's evolution, and Corbett said group messaging and video chat are still to come. But, more importantly, and back to why I'd be the MWC crier -- Libon is a technically an RCS app, but this version is not. It's a stop gap, and a pretty elegant one at that, until RCS is widespread. (See DT Backs Jibe's Cross-Carrier RCS.)

"From an operator's perspective, if RCS were everywhere, the world would be a better place," Corbett quipped at the show. "But the only way that will happen is if we build out services then use RCS when it becomes available, rather than wait. Orange's approach is to bring everything to the end user however we can then link into the network when it's available."

So the hope is that Libon will one day be fully RCS, but its future doesn't hinge on the tech, which has been a long time in the making. To speed things up internally, Orange is re-positioning all its RCS, or Joyn, services across its operator base to Libon. It's also running RCS trials in Luxembourg, Poland, Romania, and Slovenia with more to come this year. Corbett said Orange hopes to license Libon to other operators and is having discussions with several here at the show.

It's not revolutionary, but Libon is a breath of fresh in an area that's grown stale for operators and overpopulated with OTT alternatives. Libon may still have a hard time keeping up with the giants a la WhatsApp, but it's certainly much preferable to the do nothing approach of many of Orange's peers. The market won't wait for RCS, and neither should operators -- at least not without something else to show in the meantime.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

(3)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Sarah Thomas
50%
50%
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
2/27/2014 | 1:15:18 PM
Re: Sosh
I'd say equally convenient. Both are downloaded apps, but Skype requires both parties to have it, so you're more limited there. 
Susan Fourtané
50%
50%
Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Blogger
2/26/2014 | 3:37:14 AM
Re: Sosh
Sarah, 

Although €5 a month doesn't sound bad at all Iam not sure if this is more convenient than Skype. Looking forward to the video demo. 

-Susan
Sarah Thomas
50%
50%
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
2/25/2014 | 10:21:51 AM
Sosh
Corbett said that Orange subsidiary Sosh is using Libon as well, and offers an international calling plan for €5 a month to make calls to 40 countries. He pointed out that that is 4 times less month than Skype charges to call 4 times fewer countries. 

It's certainly not a perfect app, and far from alone in the market, but I think it's an important move from the operator who recognizes the need to be in this market. 

Video demo of the app coming soon..
More Blogs from Que Sera Sarah
The results of Women in Comms' first survey are in, and they show that the more things change, the more they stay the same (among many other things!).
Join WiC for its fourth networking breakfast in Denver on Thursday, Sept. 28, where we'll come together to discuss why the future is brighter than ever for women in tech.
Nicole Engelbert, the director of research and analsis for Ovum, will be joining Women in Comms on Wednesday, Aug. 2 at 11:00 a.m. EST to talk all things women in tech.
Consulting firm will build 'inclusion councils' with white men in the mix instead of employee resource groups for women and minorities alone.
How many more women have to come forward and public apologies issued before we can just agree that now is the time to stop being creepy and start being decent human beings?
Featured Video
From The Founder
The 'gleaming city on a hill,' Steve Saunders calls it. But who is going to take us from today's NFV componentry to the grand future of a self-driving network? Here's a look at the vendors hoping to make it happen.
Flash Poll
Upcoming Live Events
September 28, 2017, Denver, CO
October 18, 2017, Colorado Convention Center - Denver, CO
November 1, 2017, The Royal Garden Hotel
November 1, 2017, The Montcalm Marble Arch
November 2, 2017, 8 Northumberland Avenue, London, UK
November 2, 2017, 8 Northumberland Avenue – London
November 10, 2017, The Westin Times Square, New York, NY
November 30, 2017, The Westin Times Square
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
Why Amazon May Be Cable's Biggest Threat
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 9/22/2017
Could 5G Have Found Its Glass Ceiling?
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 9/20/2017
Can Fixed Wireless Fix Rural Broadband?
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 9/25/2017
1 Million Pirate Set-Top Boxes Sold in the UK
Aditya Kishore, Practice Leader, Video Transformation, Telco Transformation, 9/20/2017
Comcast Shuts Down OTT Again
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 9/19/2017
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

Understanding the full experience of women in technology requires starting at the collegiate level (or sooner) and studying the technologies women are involved with, company cultures they're part of and personal experiences of individuals.

During this WiC radio show, we will talk with Nicole Engelbert, the director of Research & Analysis for Ovum Technology and a 23-year telecom industry veteran, about her experiences and perspectives on women in tech. Engelbert covers infrastructure, applications and industries for Ovum, but she is also involved in the research firm's higher education team and has helped colleges and universities globally leverage technology as a strategy for improving recruitment, retention and graduation performance.

She will share her unique insight into the collegiate level, where women pursuing engineering and STEM-related degrees is dwindling. Engelbert will also reveal new, original Ovum research on the topics of artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, security and augmented reality, as well as discuss what each of those technologies might mean for women in our field. As always, we'll also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air and chat board.

Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed