I admire a company with the nerve to go head-to-head with a giant, but Samsung’s ChatON, released on the App Store for iOS, is likely facing an uphill struggle if they think it’ll stand up next to Apple’s iMessage.
The app is a multi-platform messaging service (which iMessage isn’t, so +1 to Samsung) that allows iPhone users to chat for free with Android and other smartphone users (Windows and Blackberry phone support coming soon, they say). Like iMessage, ChatON works on its own network so it’s not restricted to cellular connectivity the way SMS is. You get chat, group chat, broadcast and whiteboard-type features. They’re also working on a web interface, so all the bases will be covered.
In theory, it sounds like a pretty solid idea that could go toe-to-toe with iMessage, but the history of other text clients on the iPhone gives pause to wonder. Textie, TextPlus and other systems (some of which were quite shoddy) have become something of a memory since iMessage has arrived, allowing all iOS users to talk to each other for free over cellular or W-Fi connections, get delivery receipts, send multimedia and lengthy messages, etc. It’s also very hard (as Microsoft will tell you) to get a leg up over software that comes pre-installed with the system itself… especially if it’s decent software (Microsoft might not be able to tell you much about that). ChatON has a pretty broad user base (somewhere between 100,000 and 500,000 installations), so it may have a better shot than other, lesser-known clients ever did.
One thing we do know, however: Whether it is ChatON or iMessage that wins the hearts of users with free service and extensive features, carriers who used to rake in the cash from overpriced SMS messages lose.