Device operating systems

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

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 4:55:10 PM
re: Samsung Gets Its ChatOn Too

Gizmodo appears to agree with me, but more colorfully. But it makes a good point: Unless IM becomes as easy and mindless as SMS, it's not going to really take off. That's compounded by the fact that there's so many disparate services, but I think it's also true even if IM is free and SMS costs money.


sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 4:55:09 PM
re: Samsung Gets Its ChatOn Too

When I say there are lots of other options for IM services, I mean LOTS. Business Insider lists 10 SMS alternatives on its site.


sam masud 12/5/2012 | 4:55:08 PM
re: Samsung Gets Its ChatOn Too

Looks like mobile backhaul estimates are going to go out the proverbial window.

jdbower 12/5/2012 | 4:55:06 PM
re: Samsung Gets Its ChatOn Too

I've always hated that BBM is BlackBerry-only, it seems to say "you can chat, but only with the cool kids who buy the right brand of sneakers."  Apple followed suit with FaceTime, don't have an iPhone or Mac and you're not cool enough for the service.  The "cross-platform" video chatting systems like Fring and Tango forget the all-important PC client.  So far to my knowledge it's really only Google Talk (which hasn't been widely released with video capabilities unless you know what you're doing) and Skype (which fails to recognize the need to support phones with only a rear camera) which offer a true multi-platform support from most (relevant) mobile and desktop OSes.  Having a Windows/Mac/Linux client is really the only way to make things simple - if I can't call someone anyplace, no matter what device they're using, it's not very useful to me.  

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