Samsung is jumping into the instant messaging market with a new IM tool destined for a variety of feature phones and smartphones.
The Korean mobile phone maker's new and free ChatOn IM client is designed to be cross-platform, allowing users of a wide range of phones to be able to chat with family, friends, and colleagues. The service will be preinstalled on Samsung's feature phones as well as smartphones running both Android and the company's own Bada mobile OS, according to Reuters.
But it will also be available as a free download for other mobile platforms, including Apple's iOS and RIM's BlackBerry.
"With ChatOn, Samsung has vastly simplified mobile communication by allowing users to connect to our upcoming feature phones and all major smartphones in the market," Ho Soo Lee, Head of Media Solution Center at Samsung Electronics, said in a statement. "Users around the world can now enjoy easier and richer interactivity with whoever they want, in the format they want."
Feature phone users can access the service's basic functionality, letting them share text messages, photos, calendars, and contacts. Smartphone users will be able to tap into more advanced features, Samsung said, allowing them to post comments to their friends' profile pages, keep track of how often they IM, and create "animation messages" completed with text, audio, and background pictures.
Due to be available across more than 120 countries in 62 different languages, ChatOn will make its official debut this week at the IFA conference in Berlin later this week. The service will then roll out gradually to major smartphones, tablets, notebook PCs, and Samsung feature phones, according to the company.
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ChatOn is joining a growing market of IM tools that are moving more into the realm of social networking. RIM has beefed up its own BlackBerry Messenger service in an attempt to turn it into more of a "social experience." Apple recently rolled out its iMessage IM service for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.
However, both BlackBerry Messenger and iMessage are limited to BlackBerry and iOS users, respectively, while Samsung's ChatOn is trying to compete by targeting a larger universe of mobile device owners.