Samsung buys Canada’s NewNet

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Samsung buys Canada’s NewNet

Samsung Electronics is acquiring NewNet Canada, an operator of Rich Communications Services (RCS), to enhance the messaging on its mobile devices and get into the next generation of text messaging.

The announcement late Tuesday came just a day after the tech giant made public an $8 billion acquisition of American auto component supplier Harman.

The NetwNet deal, the sixth major acquisition by Samsung this year, shows the company is putting its chips RCS technology as mobile networks switch to IP-based networks and services.

Samsung did not disclose the terms of the deal. It only said that NewNet will continue to operate independently under the existing leadership of Brent Newsome and Gavin Murphy as a wholly owned subsidiary of Samsung Electronics Canada.

RCS refers to a type of Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA) program for the creation of communication services between different telecom operators and regions, and is similar to Apple’s iMessage.

Promising more efficient and personalized services, RCA allows users to share videos and high-resolution images, transfer files and switch to a video call during a voice call. It can be incorporated into existing SMS or multimedia messaging service.

Users can also receive real-time typing notifications, read receipts and make group chats - elements already offered by Korea’s ubiquitous messaging app KakaoTalk.

After GSMA marketed RCS under the brand name Joyn, all three telecom operators in Korea launched the app in December 2012 but shut it down last December after failing to find a solid user base. KakaoTalk is used by 98 percent of all smartphone owners in Korea. The situation is similar overseas. RCS has failed to earn the support of wireless operators across the globe.

Most recently, Google and 15 global carriers partnered with GSMA to promote further RCS adoption, and the top search engine developer announced Nov. 4 it would launch RCS messaging for Android phones with Sprint in the United States.

That may have led Samsung to calculate that RCS can find opportunities in business-to-business transactions, utilizing Samsung’s top position in the mobile device market.

Samsung is expected to incorporate the messaging service in the virtual assistant in its upcoming Galaxy S8 smartphone. The digital assistant owes a lot to Samsung’s acquisition of Viv Labs, an artificial intelligence start-up founded by the creators of Apple’s Siri.


BY SEO JI-EUN [seo.jieun@joongang.co.kr]

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