Although text messaging is still one of the favorite pastimes for children and adults alike, software firm Geodesic believes that mobile instant messaging will cannibalize SMS and become the de facto form of communication through cell phones, going forward.
The company offers a tool called Mundu IM, which recently entered its fourth iteration. The software provides users with an IM service that works with AIM, Google Talk, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo, and Jabber accounts, with collaboration across the Web and wireless devices.
Mundu IM is currently supported on most mobile phones running Symbian, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, Palm OS, and Java platforms. The service also has a iPhone Web interface, which allows users of the Apple smartphone to log in to their favorite IM application without requiring a download through the App Store.
I had the opportunity to use the Mundu IM service on my iPhone 3G and found that it worked quite well. I was able to log in to my instant-messaging services without a problem, and upon doing so, I found that chatting with others through the software was quick and just as simple as chatting with them on my desktop.
But where Mundu IM really shines is in its extras. The service allows you to share pictures taken from your phone with friends, transfer files, and cross-conference with contacts across IM services, making it much simpler to talk with people, regardless of their preferred IM software.
Mundu's design is second to none. It features stylish icons that make it easy to choose your IM service, and the interface during chat was simple, which made the experience far more usable.
Although the software itself is simple and elegant, I'm not quite sold on the implementation. It's nice to have a full-fledged IM service on my iPhone that will help me save money on SMS, but why not make it an iPhone app and offer it on the App Store? Making Mundu Web-based seems a bit odd and takes away from an otherwise fine service, due to Safari's annoying quirks and hiccups, which become frustrating after some time.
When evaluating Mundu's competitive environment, it becomes clear that its IM service takes aim at Agile Messenger, which currently charges customers $44.95 for lifetime use. Based on my findings, the experience is similar, but Mundu IM's $11 one-time fee puts it over the top and makes Agile Messenger less appealing.
It would have been nice if Mundu IM were free, like Meebo, but I understand that Geodesic needs to turn a profit too, and $11 is more than affordable, considering that you'll have your phone for at least two years.
With all the versions Mundu IM offers, it should be noted that "your mileage may vary" depending on the version of the software you use. Although the iPhone version works as advertised, and provides an experience that would make me want to use it on a regular basis, phone differences, mobile-OS quirks, and other considerations become an issue when applying that opinion to all versions of the software.
Because of that, I need to qualify my recommendation when I say that Mundu IM is worth using on the iPhone if you use multiple IM services, and you don't mind accessing them through the Safari browser. But if you only use AIM, I simply don't see a reason to use Mundu IM--access the App Store, and download the AIM app instead. It's free.