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Telefónica: Tu Me Has Got To Go

Sarah Thomas

Telefónica's Digital division is pulling the plug on its over-the-top voice and SMS service, Tu Me, instead focusing all its efforts on its cross-platform communications app, Tu Go.

The operator confirmed Tu Me's shuttering on Wednesday and let its users know service would end on Sept. 8. This time last year, Telefónica reported having more than 600,000 active users for the service.

Jamie Finn, who leads Telefónica's OTT efforts, says it's abandoning the service in order to really focus on Tu Go, its newer app that lets users send texts or make voice or video calls from any device, including their tablet or PC.

"We are doubling down on Tu Go since it only makes sense to focus on what is working and our customers are asking for every day," Finn writes in an email to Light Reading, adding that it had to prioritize Tu Go "based on the operator's not unlimited engineering resources."

The logic makes sense as Tu Go has been successful for the operator and extends its core communications services rather than offers an alternative to them. It's been a way for Telefónica to keep customers loyal by increasing the value of their service. (See Et Tu, Telefónica?)

There is, however, another very clear reason Tu Me is getting the boot. Most mobile users are already well entrenched in their communications app of choice. If they aren't using traditional voice and SMS, they have a favorite OTT app. Just today, WhatsApp revealed it has hit 300 million monthly active users, sending 11 billion messages and receiving 20 billion messages per day. Luring those users back to an operator-offered service was never going to be easy, even if it's free.

Tu Go fills an actual need in the marketplace, however. As I've mentioned before, divorcing the device from the communications service makes a lot of sense. As with email, when it syncs across all screens, it is markedly easier to use. There's no service cannibalization risk and no alternative app that's going to be easier than a native one. (See Texting & The Phone Get Divorced .)

It is disappointing to see Tu Me shut down. We've often praised Telefónica as an operator that seems to "get it" when it comes to OTT in the past. But I do think it was the right move. And I'd add that it does support Telefónica Digital's mantra of exploring new services, seeing what sticks and ditching what doesn't -- acting like a startup, basically. As Finn says, they learned a lot from Tu Me that will now help with Tu Go, so it wasn't a failure. It's a smart business strategy and, for Telefónica, this appears to be the right decision.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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User Rank: Light Sabre
8/9/2013 | 1:32:32 PM
re: Telefónica: Tu Me Has Got To Go
I'm sure the users who have the plug pulled on them are thrilled with the audacity.
Ray Le Maistre
Ray Le Maistre,
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/8/2013 | 9:36:22 AM
re: Telefónica: Tu Me Has Got To Go
And WhatsApp has just added a voice messaging service too....

Ray Le Maistre
Ray Le Maistre,
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/8/2013 | 9:25:21 AM
re: Telefónica: Tu Me Has Got To Go
You've got to hand it to Telefonica -- as pointed out in this blog, to launch a service, attract a user base and then pull the plug about a year later to focus on something else that is working better goes totally against the normal behaviour patterns of a telco. Does that count as a cultural success for Telefonica Digital?
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