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Spaniards Joyn together to hunt and kill the Skype monster

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Three Spanish operators have launched interoperable Joyn services, providing VoIP and IP messaging between networks in a belated attempt to take on the plethora of internet services stealing their customers.

Movistar, Orange and Vodafone have all signed up to support Joyn, the latest innovation from the GSMA which provides a presence-enhanced address book from which to make VoIP calls, send messages/files/videos and set up group calls - where user are just get billed for the local data as long as the other party is part of Joyn.

The operator-branded apps will be Android-only for the moment - iOS is promised soon - and provide everything which the Wireless Village standard promised more than a decade ago, only this time with working functionality and actual handsets.

Not that many handsets though. All three operators will be launching Android devices with Joyn pre-installed, but not until next year, and there will be branded apps too, for those who want to download their connectivity. Right now MetroPCS is the only such app in Google Play (Vodafone has a beta up there too, but not for UK customers to play with), but we're assured it will shortly be joined by a plethora of others - as well as a promised iPhone version.

Joyn is a last-ditch attempt to hang on to customer identities as operators realise that the best way to compete with Skype and its ilk is to offer the same service with better branding, and worry about how they're going to bill for it all later.

Back in 2001 Nokia was showing off a presence-enabled address book, using Wireless Village to show if contacts were on the network, if they were on 3G, and if they didn't mind being disturbed. Since then we've seen presence appear in numerous messaging clients, each trying to become the default home. Joyn has the backing of the network operators but unless the experience is seamlessly integrated it could still be too late. ®

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