Telefonica's freebie VoIP platform Tu Me will be shuttered next month as the mobile network pushes customers towards, er, Tu Go.
Tu Me came out of Jajah, the internet voice-call outfit Telefonica bought in 2009, but it was never intended to be more than a stepping stone towards a brave new future of telephony as a service. That world is embodied in Tu Go, which launched in the UK in March, so the stepping stone is no longer needed.
"Hi, we’re sorry to say that TU Me is being discontinued," goes the statement on the site. "During the next month we’ll be phasing out our support for TU Me, which means that after Sunday September 8th it will be inoperable."
But while Tu Me is being killed off, Telefonica (which goes under the name O2 in the UK) is piling some weight behind Tu Go as the plan for the future of telecommunications.
Tu Go makes telephony much more like an email service: you can send and receive email using any computer or capable device that can reach your email provider's mail servers. Tu Go takes that approach and applies it to making voice calls over the internet using your traditional phone number.
Sign up for a Tu Go account (if you're an O2 UK customer) and incoming calls will be forwarded to every device logged in to that account; make a call from any device and it will use what connectivity is available (and bill the minutes from one's O2 tariff). The phone number turns into a cloud service, like an email inbox, only more expensive.
Telefonica Digital sees customers wanting two services, a phone number and the connectivity to use it, and there's no reason why those services should come from the same place.
Joyn, the cross-network VoIP service being pushed by the GSMA, offers a similar model, but with a fundamentally different focus. Joyn wants to add features (such as file exchange and video calling) to the mobile experience, while Tu Go wants to change the business model behind that experience.
Telefonica's Spanish operation, Movistar, has implemented Joyn so that it works across the dominant Spanish networks, but it's no coincidence that Telefonica Digital – the research arm of the operator charged with plotting out a viable future – is based in London where Tu Go is available and Joyn is nowhere to be seen. ®