Almost two years have passed since the announcement of José María Álvarez-Pallete, president of Telefónica during the 30th Telecommunications and Digital Economy Meeting held in Santander in relation to the fourth platform. “Users will be able to control the data that they give to services such as Facebook or WhatsApp,” the executive told the media. What has happened to all that? Does Aura look like what Telefónica intended to develop?
September 2016, all the media gathered the statements of the president of Telefonica that just announced the creation of a fourth platform capable of allowing the operator’s customers to control the data that yield to services such as Facebook or Whatsapp, Google, Linkedin or Twitter. A revolutionary idea that raised dozens and dozens of questions in relation to the new project and also generated a lot of news in virtually all media.
Revolution in relation to user privacy
Pallete explained that the users did not really know how exposed they were. “If something is free such as Facebook, it’s because the user was the product“. For this reason, the manager added that the operator was working on a very innovative project capable of returning information to users so they would know what to do with their data, creating applications to make this feasible. Even the president went further, “the creation of this fourth platform could allow in the future customers to even negotiate with companies such as WhatsApp or Linkedin, for example, charging to make use of their personal data. “At this moment, the Internet giants are generating enormous benefits through personal data, this is somewhat controversial,” said the president of the operator.
Aura does not look anything like what was announced
Two years after the announcement, Aura arrived in homes, specifically in six countries and has nothing to do with what was explained in September 2016. We do not know if the radical change in the project has to do with the impossibility of halting the use of data by third parties such as Google or Facebook or if the operator decided to give it a spin for purely business reasons. Paradoxically, the fourth platform posed a brake between the user and the Internet giant, however, Aura flirts precisely with these companies to enrich the user experience, for example, with Google Assistant.
What potential does Aura have then?
Telefónica’s new voice assistant arrives practically at the same time as other attendees such as Google Home (which at the moment is not working on sales as expected) or Amazon Echo, which last year showed its strength by taking more than 80% of the market in this segment. The potential of Telefónica’s new voice assistant is still unknown because at the moment it only allows functions that can be solved with a simple phone call to the assistance center, in addition to changing channels on television and other very basic functions. In the future it seems that there will be surprises thanks to the artificial intelligence system that Aura incorporates. For example, we can dynamically modify our data franchise based on consumption, we can manage the router with the voice to create a specific WiFi network or we can hire channels instantly when Aura tells us about the programming in real time.
Do we forget what the fourth platform was initially?
If we adjust to what was announced at the Santander meeting of 2016, it is clear that we will not see a platform or application capable of giving us control over our data, basically because not even Telefónica can know what happens between the user and a company like Google or Facebook. Seen in perspective, we could say that it was an unrealizable marketing exercise that we bought all the media.
The fourth platform (Aura) will only be limited to Telefónica services with a commercial and loyalty vocation, improving the user experience. The success or not of the service will only be known by the operator once the use becomes popular and then they can assess whether it deserved the development size penalty that has been used by hundreds of engineers in different countries where the operator is present.