Samsung Challenges RIM with ChatOn

by Matt Klassen on August 30, 2011

I will admit that sometimes I’m too hard on Research in Motion, consistently harping on the company’s inability to innovate and its top heavy team of inept management; because despite all the doom and gloom there has been one popular tool that has long lured customers towards the Blackberry: BlackBerry Messaging (BBM), a feature that has become a mainstay of RIM’s marketing strategy.

However, while the promises of simple and secure phone-to-phone messages that allow users to bypass their allotted carrier texting limits were enough to keep users in the Blackberry fold for awhile, it was only a matter of time before RIM’s competitors starting paying attention to this messaging phenomenon and started to do something about it.

It was earlier this summer that we saw the first challenge to RIM’s BBM service, as Apple unveiled its iMessage service, clearly a derivative of its Blackberry rival. Now it looks like both those companies have another competitor to watch out for, as Samsung—a company enjoying a spectacularly profitable summer with its new tablet and smartphones—has announced it will be releasing its own instant messaging tool dubbed ChatOn.

Quickly becoming one of the dominant forces in the mobile world, Samsung is looking to build on its rising popularity by launching its own instant messaging tool, a move clearly designed as a challenge for both Apple and Research in Motion. The hope is, of course, that having this new IM feature on its new Android phones and tablets will allow Samsung to lure more customers away from its closest competitors.

The move puts Samsung squarely in the middle of an ever-increasingly crowded IM market, a market that continues to cause all sorts of headaches for carriers across the continent, as texting is a lucrative source of revenue in today’s mobile world.

For its part, Apple is preparing to launch its new iMessage service either later this summer or early Fall, no doubt coinciding with the launch of its new iPhone. RIM, on the other hand, is simply looking for ways to keep its own BBM service relevant, launching a BBM music service“designed to allow social and viral music discovery by allowing users to build a dynamic, community-based music library that can be shared along with BlackBerry Messenger goodness.”

While the competition will be fierce, I nevertheless like Samsung’s chances in this IM sphere. Its new tablet, the Galaxy Tab II, is selling well (although still not at iPad numbers) and its quickly becoming one of the best Android smartphone developers on the market, adding its new ChatOn messaging will only serve to sweeten the pot.

According to Samsung, its new messaging tool will be compliant will all major smartphone platforms (including iPhone and Blackberry), and will soon be available on all Android devices and available for download on all major rival devices. Looking at ChatOn itself, it will allow users to send texts, video, images, and hand-written notes to friends, in addition to allowing users to form larger chat groups.

That said, the uniqueness of RIM’s BBM service is fading fast, with several of the company’s more successful rivals rolling out their own versions—albeit derivative versions—on more popular operating systems and more popular devices, meaning that RIM better hit a homerun with its new BBM music service or prepare for the exodus of many of the estimated 45 million users of its messaging tool.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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