Samsung's ChatON is latest in crowded mobile messaging field
Google is in the fray with Huddle, a feature found in its Google+ app for Android and Apple iOS devices such as the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. Apple is set to roll out its iMessage service this fall with the launch of iOS 5.
Skype, which is being taken over by Microsoft, has purchased GroupMe for an estimated $85 million. And Facebook has released its Facebook Messenger app for iOS, which might have been a product of the social network's move to purchase Beluga (which still runs as its own app) in March.
Research in Motion has for years had its BlackBerry Messenger service, which in some ways got this entire market started. And recently BlackBerry Messenger has made a lot of news as well, being used as an organizing tool for the rioters in London as well as RIM trying to leverage its Messenger user base into a new music sharing app call BBM Music service.
Each messaging system works the same way -- users of a service can message other users for free, sending text messages and sometimes photos and video too.
The big deal here is that Samsung's ChatON, and each of these other competing services, are all free -- leading many analysts and journalists to predict that paid text messaging through cellphone carriers is on its way out. A possible reaction to this might have been AT&T's decision to kill its other text messaging plans in favor of only a $20 per month unlimited texting option.
So what makes ChatON any different from others in the growing field of competitors? Well, Samsung says ChatON will be the most internationally compatible mobile messaging service. It will be made available in 62 languages and 120 countries over the next few weeks as it rolls out to Android devices.
Eventually, though Samsung hasn't said when, ChatON is slated to hit iOS too. Samsung is also adding a bit of gamification to the service too, allowing ChatON users to have a profile page called "My page" which ranks users and their friends by how much they interact.
To get a look at ChatON before it hits Apple's App Store and Google's Android Market, check out Samsung's launch video below.
-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Image: A screen shot of a Samsung video demonstrating the new ChatON messaging service. Credit: Samsung