Samsung Gets Its ChatOn Too
1:35 PM -- First it was voice calls, and then came text messages, but now it appears that free mobile instant messaging is emerging as the communication medium du jour. Samsung Corp. is getting in on the action too, announcing ChatOn, its version of a group mobile IM service.
Like BlackBerry 's BlackBerry Messenger and Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)'s soon-to-be-launched iMessage, ChatOn (demoed in the following video) lets users send group texts, video and multimedia messages, as well as push their calendar, location and social networking updates to friends. (See Apple Borrows From Competitors for iOS 5.)
ChatOn looks like a fun new service and, unlike its competitors, Samsung is opening it up to smartphones and feature phones, as well as on its own bada OS, iOS, Android, BlackBerry and PCs. But even though ChatOn is more open than the others, it doesn't negate the fact that there are others -- lots of them.
Outside of Apple and RIM, Facebook , Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) (through its Skype Ltd. and GroupMe acquisition), and a number of apps like PingChat and WhatsApp offer alternatives. (See Mango Is a Go and Skype Acquires Group Chat Startup.)
It's clear that traditional SMS is becoming less important, and less of a revenue generator for wireless operators, but the mobile IM market would do better standardizing around one or two options. Chatting is only fun when it's a two- or multi-way street, and when everyone is on a different service, there might be no one to talk to.
I'd expect more M&A, and perhaps moves by the wireless operators to make SMS more appealing (or just more expensive) in the future.
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile