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TU me: Telefonica’s integrated, smart over-the-top (“OTT”) messaging service

First, let me say kudos to the Telefonica Digital team behind TU Me.

Second, let me say: Yah-boo-sucks to the rest of the mobile operator community that’s been standing still, watching paint dry for the last few years doing absolutely nothing to innovate anything more exciting than a slightly modified price plan.

TU Me is a single communications hub — think What’s App, but on steroids. It’s a smartphone app — iPhone initially — that enables you to send text messages, voice messages, photos, location information and even make calls. You don’t need to be a Telefonica customer to use it — it’ll work on any iPhone, anywhere, on any communications platform (cellular data or WiFi).


I very much like the Telefonica Digital approach with TU Me? They’ve actually got out of bed and made something worthy of the new economy, the new world — this connected reality that we’re all beginning to inhabit. Put simply, TU Me really does make Apple’s current iteration of iMessage look like a highly limited rubbish first iteration. The Telefonica Digital team have done the Crocodile Dundee equivalent of “that’s not a knife, THIS is knife!” with TU Me.

To build, it took the team 6 months from zero to live. That is excellent. More of this please. If TU Me is a reflection of what we should expect from Telefonica Digital, I reckon we’ve got some very exciting times coming soon. And that’s not all. In the press release below, the company points out it’s got a lot more of this coming, including some “enhanced communications services” (also using the TU brand). Further, these new services will be made available to Telefonica customers “as part of their bundles”.

… interesting. Very interesting.

Bring it on.

So it’s iPhone-only today, but you’ll be able to pick it up for Android shortly. I really do encourage Telefonica to go the extra mile in this case and NOT favour any particular platform. I’d like to see them make TU Me available for:

– Windows Phone
– Symbian (YES! FOLK still use it!)
– BlackBerry 5-7, PlayBook & BB10
– And, er, maybe even Bada

The key, I think, is to remove every single possible excuse for folk not to bother using TU Me. iPhone, Android and RIM will cover a huge part of the company’s smartphone ecosystem. It’s important that families and friend groups that are all using different platforms aren’t put off and don’t just either stay with What’s App (or similar) or avoid even bothering to look at TU Me because of limited platform support.

Remove all the barriers.

I wonder if I could use TU Me on multiple handsets? So even if I had different phone numbers, I’d always get the same messages everywhere? I’ll need to check that out.

Spare a thought for the other mobile operator groups today. They must be having kittens over at the other operator HQs. (Vodafone Xone, anybody?). Deutsche Telecom? Heh. France Telecom are better positioned to respond swiftly with their Life Is Better On team who could certainly deliver similar.

Will we actively see TU Me marketed as a Telefonica / O2 / Movistar / Vivo properly via their standard mass-market, mass-media channels? That would really, really start to shake things up with the standard service proposition that hasn’t seen significant change for a long time.

Will we see TU Me included into international roaming bundles for Telefonica customers?

Can you imagine the potential value of being able to offer customers unlimited fair-use TU Me access for £5/week whilst abroad roaming? Folk would be insisting their families installed the service so that when they were abroad, they could stay in touch easily. It might even be worth Telefonica running a roaming ‘balance of payments’ debt to other operators to promote this and to gain loyalty, customers and additional revenues. If they did this, I think it’d be the bait I’d need to actually got off my arse and swap primary providers to O2 in the UK.

Wouldn’t it be great if they integrated something like Onavo compression or Mailsuite compression into the app so that when you’re abroad roaming, it automatically does it best to limit data use? Or perhaps it could go into ‘roaming mode’ whereby it only allows you to send/receive 200 characters per message and only allows the transmission of text to limit data use?

Yes, I can feel the sound of a thousand mobile strategy executives working through the night speculating on just what the launch of TU Me could herald for their particular customer segments or divisions. (I know: I’ve had a few calls on this today already!)

We shall see. Let’s see where this goes.

Nice work Telefonica.

The branding is excellent as well — TU Me (“too me”)? Love it.

Here’s the full release FYI:

Telefónica Digital today announces the launch of TU Me, a mobile app that enables communication and sharing via smartphones, keeping a record of every interaction through a simple, searchable timeline. TU Me offers one of the best integrated communications experiences on a smartphone and is now available to download from the Apple App Store. Free to use at launch, the service will continue to be developed with added value functionality.

TU Me is the first service from Telefónica Digital to launch directly to consumers and the first time Telefónica has launched a product worldwide, regardless of its operating markets.

Telefónica is committed to innovating in its core business of communications. Over the coming months, it will also use the TU brand to launch a number of enhanced communications services which its O2, movistar and Vivo businesses will make available to customers as part of their bundles.

TU Me is designed to make it as easy as possible for people to communicate with their friends and family using their smartphone. Users of TU Me can exchange text messages, make calls, leave voice messages, share photos and location information. Interactions are stored in a timeline format, making it easy to view, scroll through and keep a history of conversations.

TU Me has been developed to offer the best communications experience in an app and is built to rigorous phone industry standards. It is the only app of its kind that stores your content in the Cloud so that it is always available whenever you log into the app, even if you lose your device. It is also the only app that lets you make calls, send voice messages, instant messages, photos and location from one control within one screen, with no need to switch apps or tabs.

TU Me is initially available for iOS users with the Android version to follow shortly. The service is available for free to anyone with an iPhone worldwide, regardless of their network operator, and works via their mobile data plan or over Wi-Fi.

TU Me is the first product from Telefónica Digital to launch under the new TU brand and reached the market less than six months from the formation of the unit.

“We’ve seen the growing popularity of communications apps on smartphones but we believe we’ve gone one better with TU Me using our knowledge and insights of how people use their devices,” said Stephen Shurrock, Chief Commercial Officer at Telefónica Digital. “TU Me puts all your communications needs into one place, for free, and is a great way for people to stay in touch with those close to them. It’s also a testament to the innovation, speed and agility within Telefónica Digital.”

TU Me is available as a free download in Apple’s AppStore or visit for more information or to sign up to receive information about upcoming releases for other operating systems.

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