Group messaging has been on everyone’s radar since SXSW 2011 kicked off in March. How else would bloggers keep each other abreast about which brands are sponsoring (read: supplying an unlimited amount of free alcohol) the get togethers that would have otherwise never happened due to geographical issues? Three months later Apple would announce iMessage, a BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) clone that’s going to be baked into the next version of iOS. Talking about BBM, the recent riots in London proved to the world that RIM is still a serious player and that BBM is incredibly unvalued. Samsung, looking to get in on the game, has just announced “ChatON”. It’s going to launch this October and will be bundled on every smartphone the South Korean handset vendor ships, including devices running bada, their proprietary operating system; it even supports RIM’s BlackBerry operating system, Apple’s iOS, and of course other Android devices. According to Reuters, ChatON will let users send “text, images, and hand-written notes, as well as chat in groups and share video clips.”
Will it take off? Without seeing the technical implementation, it’s hard to say. The nice thing about Apple’s iMessage is that it uses your existing iTunes login information. Will consumers picking up Samsung hardware want to create another user account when they can just as easily install an application for a service they already use? Nokia tried to enter the messaging space ages ago with Ovi Chat, and they failed miserably, not because their service was crippled in any way shape or form, but because their client let you use accounts you already had with Yahoo! or MSN.
By this time next year every Android phone on the market will have Google Talk installed by default, every iPhone will be running iMessage, and every Windows Phone will have Skype and MSN out of the box. Is there space for ChatON or is Samsung just throwing money down the drain?
Update: Additional information, including a marketing video, at SammyHub.