Beluga: Group chat for Android, iPhone, and the web [Made by 3 former Google employees]

One of the reasons RIM is so successful with their BlackBerry lineup of smartphones isn’t the push email, nor the long battery life of their hardware, but instead it’s the instant messaging platform dubbed “BlackBerry Messenger” which features group chat capabilities. Looking to capitalize on this success, three former Google employees just launched their take on the group chat phenomenon with “Beluga“. Initial platforms compatible with the service are Google’s Android operating system and Apple’s iOS. There’s also a website, but it’s meant for desktop use, not mobile. The three former employees from the search giant are: Ben Davenport, who helped build Google AdSense and also dabbled in high frequency trading, Lucy Zhang, who helped design and develop products such as Google AdWords, Google News and Google Docs, and finally Jonathan Perlow who was a Senior Staff Engineer at Google where he was the tech lead of the Gmail front-end team focusing on user interface and server scalability. He was also responsible for Gmail Chat and Mail Goggles.

That’s a remarkable set of talented minds, but I’ve got to ask, what’s wrong with text messaging? It doesn’t need a smartphone to work, and while SMS doesn’t have a group chat feature enabled, you can just send the same text to multiple people. Old school? Sure, but I still don’t see the point of joining yet another service just so I can share status updates and pictures with people who may not even be that close to me. If they are close, I’ll just talk to them the next time we chat over coffee.

What say you, is group chat hot or not and are you simply waiting for Facebook to build said feature inside their already wildly used instant messaging system? If you use BlackBerry Messenger, how addicted are you to the service anyway?

[Via: Louis Gray]

  • Jae

    I gotta disagree with the author on this. This app might be a one hit thing, but it is a needed app for Android and other OS. The reason I am not anticipating a Facebook messenger that allows this feature is that I want to control which groups I send out messages to. Admittedly I don’t know if FB mobile app allows that. And txting is frankly not good enough. Only one response can be viewed and every message needs to be retexted in order share. Cumbersome. I hope Beluga works out.

  • A number of reasons why I like this over SMS:

    – Its charged to my data tariff, which means I don’t receive excessive charges for texts
    – Everyone invited to a “pod” can see all the messages sent by everyone, SMS does not work the same
    – Anyone who comes to a “pod” late can see all the previous discussion
    – Its not like the traditional method of “social networking”, which is pretty inane. Facebook and twitter is more about nonsense, Beluga is more shared private messages between people discussing things. More importantly, whole pods can be deleted, or you can remove yourself from a pod.

    So, as much as I understand that many people probably won’t catch onto this straight away, I believe eventually, when this service has many users, it will get more simply as more people need to use it to keep in contact with people… much the same as how Facebook started.

    Traditional social networking online is drawing to a close, I am tired of how poor facebook is, and how much nonsense I am forced to consume on there… Beluga takes Twitter, SMS, MMS, Maps and social networking and mashes it into a useful day to day tool.

  • Mrw45

    We are actually struggling with this issue right now at my work. Text messages don’t cut it when your TEAM needs to be in touch and in the loop. I’m going to give this a serious look.

  • Mrw45

    Scratch that Facebook has bought them…it’s been relegated to the ranks of “useless for business” social network apps.

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