Tuenti, Telefonica’s Spanish social network with 13 million domestic users has been launched globally. The mobile giant acquired Tuenti for $99 million in 2010 and is hoping to attract Telefonia users worldwide to the service and create a genuine competitor to the likes of Facebook and Twitter.
As others struggle with mobile Tuenti, which already has 6 million mobile users, is targeting this space directly by launching on Wednesday an integrated mobile messaging app as well as beta versions of Tuenti apps for Android and BlackBerry devices, with iOS and Windows Phone apps due “in the coming weeks.”
Telefonica has 309 million users in 25 countries across Europe and South America. This captive audience should give Tuenti a healthy headstart over other fledgling networks. Tuenti is launching Wednesday in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, Italian, Dutch, Slovak, and Czech. The name comes from the Spanish term “tu entidad” (meaning your entity, your identidy) and in English is a play on the number 20. The idea is that your 20 friends becomes your default network in the service. “Why call everyone ‘friends’ when only 20 people are really friends and the rest are just contacts?” asked Zaryn Dentzel, Tuenti’s CEO.
Tuenti looks like the lovechild of the current market leaders. On the surface it is similar to Facebook where people post photos and status updates but as it’s targeted at mobile messages are limited to 140 characters as in Twitter. An additional feature not unlike Google+ circles users can send posts to everyone, close friends or specific individuals. For security reasons users need to use their real names to sign up and verify their details with a mobile phone number.
It’s a bold move from Telefonica which may be frought with difficulties because as Google has been finding out, no matter how good your network is, it’s very difficult to get people to make the effort to leave Facebook. However, you can expect Tuenti apps to come pre-installed on all Telefonica (that’s O2 in the UK and Ireland) so it might have a better chance of succeeding than you’d think.