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Global No. 3 communications service provider, Telefonica has had enough of users going with Skype and other solutions for off-network communications. It now offers its own app, TU Me, for iPhone users to chat, share and message, with Android support coming soon.

From You TU Me

VoIP has long been a thorn in the side of CSPs, losing them valuable calling billable minutes and clogging up the network with additional data. The massive success of Skype has seen several attempts to duplicate the model, with varying success, but this is the first dedicated app we've seen from a telco.

TU Me comes from Telefonica and is out now on iPhone via the App Store around the world. It will be packaged or promoted with the company's various brands including Telefonica, Movistar, Vivo and O2, but can be used on any network.

Rather than just emulate Skype, it comes with a full history timeline, adds social sharing and will be updated regularly with new features to create a compelling offering. The app comes from the company's TU division which was created just six months ago to create better social experiences for users.

TU Me is designed to make it as easy for people to communicate with their friends and family. Users 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.

Skype-Scraping

The App is pretty slick with a rotary menu selection option at the bottom of the screen, to pick from messaging, calls, location and picture sharing. There are easy ways to find and add friends, all the service needs is enough of your mates on it to generate some traction. Unlike Skype, TU Me doesn't do calls to non-users, but that might come in future updates, along with revenue from billing. If that goes directly on your phone bill, it'd be easier than using Skype as an extra service.

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TU Me offers a new take on social communications

With Microsoft-owned Skype still dominating the VoIP landscape, will other CSPs look to break into the market, presumably hoping to create their own network and gain user loyalty? Telefonica's effort looks pretty neat and, if it gets enough users behind it, could become a player. Could other CSPs adopt Telefonica's effort, if only to divert some firepower from Microsoft?

If it is packaged with enough devices, especially high-end models like the Galaxy S III, BlackBerry 10 devices or promotion with the next iPhone, then it could certainly gain enough users and see usage spread via word of mouth.

For now though this is an app in its formative hours, give it a try if you can convince some friends to join in and let us know what you think. At some point, monetization will become an issue, and those additional features may become chargeable extras. But, for now, it's all free and worth a look.