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February 26 2014


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February 13 2014

BBM Update Adds Voice Calls, Channels, Dropbox And Location Sharing For iOS And Android Users
bbmA new update to the BBM apps for iOS and Android add a laundry list of anticipated features to the messaging platform. BBM Voice makes its first appearance on the Android and iPhone clients, allowing users to make direct voice calls to their BBM contacts via either Wi-Fi or cellular networks; BBM Channels provide message-board style group interactions around a particular topic, theme or personality; plus, users can now share location information with contacts via Glympse, and Dropbox files. Also new is one-click sharing, which makes it easier for users to send photos, documents, voice messages and other kinds of content to their network connections. The Glympse-powered location sharing lets people send their real-time current whereabouts, complete with timed data availability set by the user, so that you can let a business contact know where you are relative to their location if you’re running behind, but take away that access after say 30 minutes. There’s also expanded emoticon support, with 100 new ones added to help users perfectly convey their feelings without the need for pesky, hard to spell words. Many of these features are inherited from the existing set of capabilities of the native BlackBerry OS version of BBM, and were promised back when the app launched on iOS and Android last year. But they’re very welcome additions, and should help provide the network with value add incentives to draw in new users. BBM recently lost its top executive leader as Andrew Bocking departed BlackBerry, and now it seems likely he was hanging around to make sure this update shipped before taking his leave. BBM 2.0 shipping is a good sign for the messaging client, but its progress in terms of user growth since launch remains a bit of a question mark. These updates at least show that third-party platform development continues to be a priority for the company. Under recent executive shifts, BBM now falls under the purview of the Global Enterprise Solutions, division, so we’ll see how that affects consumer product efforts.

February 10 2014

Team Behind Facebook For Feature Phones Launches Chaatz, A Mobile Messaging App Aimed At Emerging Markets
IOS_hardwareA team with extensive experience working with the OEMs, carriers, and platform makers in the mobile industry, and who was most recently tasked with the creation of the Facebook mobile experience for feature phones, is now preparing to take its former client head-on with a new, multi-platform social messaging app called Chaatz. Like Facebook, Chaatz will also target both developed and emerging markets, but aims to differentiate itself from the social networking giant with features that allow for more privacy, separate profiles for work and play, and a virtual phone number, similar to something like Google Voice. The smartphone version of Chaatz, the first of many iterations of the app, arrives first on iOS with an Android launch planned for a week or so from now. Chaatz was founded by Richard Cheung (CEO), Michael Wong (CTO), and Arnie Chaudhuri (Biz Dev), and includes a 20-plus person team in both Hong Kong and Singapore. Their location, combined with the team’s experience in the mobile industry, is what they hope will give them the advantage in a crowded mobile messaging landscape. In addition to Facebook for feature phones, the team has previously helped build app stores for Nokia, LG and Samsung, for example, and claim to have a deep understanding of everything mobile from the manufacturers and carriers to the chipsets and the platforms. Explains Chaudhuri, they realized there was the potential for something like Chaatz to take off after the launch of Facebook for feature phones, which the team, then as another company, built in conjunction with Facebook. Facebook’s app did well in these emerging markets, prompting the group to think that there was a gap that could be filled. “Maybe we are the guys who understand platforms so well, and chipsets so well, and the market so well – maybe we are the guys who should be filling up that gap?,” Chaudhuri says the team wondered. With Chaatz, the company wants to reach consumers worldwide, “regardless of where they live in the world or whether they have a smartphone or not,” he adds.    Though the smartphone application is out now, the company’s larger focus is on the under-served feature phone market which they plan to reach via deals with OEMs and carriers. Already, they’ve sealed feature phone partnerships with Intex Mobile and Rage, and a global partnership with TCL Alcatel. Other deals are in discussions now too, with a carrier in Indonesia, and two other manufacturers in

January 29 2014

Trouble With Teens Could Trip Up Today’s Facebook Earnings
Facebook Bored TeensWhen Facebook mentioned "a decrease in daily users specifically among younger teens" in last quarter's earnings call, its share price fell from $57.98 in after-hours to open the next day at $47.16, eliminating tens of billions of dollars in value accrued from strong financials. How will investors react if today's Q4 2013 earnings see Facebook admit a more serious decline amongst youngsters?

December 18 2013

BBM To Come Preinstalled On LG Smartphones
bbm-androidBlackBerry is keeping the hope alive with a partnership with LG. Announced today, the LG G Pro Lite will ship with BBM already installed on the smartphone. This comes two months after BBM’s Android and iOS launch. It quickly found footing, and following its launch, raked in 10M downloads in a day. BBM is still a small player in the messaging app game, but there’s no questioning that consumers have latched onto the platform. We all know the broad strokes: Research In Motion-turned BlackBerry is quickly dying. Its last-ditch effort in consumer hardware failed to revive the storied smartphone brand. But the company is still alive, albeit on life support. BlackBerry Ltd also announced today the hiring of former SAP mobile boss John Sims to lead its global enterprise business. This partnership with LG shows there could be a future for BlackBerry that doesn’t involve a bankruptcy court. The Canada-based company will never regain its share of the smartphone market, but there’s plenty of money to be made in enterprise infrastructure and global communication. BlackBerry announces its latest quarterly earnings on Friday. It should be a bloodbath.

December 12 2013

Kik Hits 100M Users, Adding New Ones At A Rate Of 200K Per Day
kikThe messaging wars are in full swing, and Waterloo-based Kik is still seeing tremendous positive growth despite trailing its rival WhatsApp in terms of total userbase size. The company revealed today that it has just passed 100 million registered users, having added 70 million of those since this time last year. The startup also launched Cards, its HTML5-based in-app content sharing system this time last year, and engagement on those apps-within-an-app has been promising, too, according to Kik founder and CEO Ted Livingston.
LinkedIn Refreshes Its Inbox With Message Previews And A Simpler Interface To Keep Users Around Longer
linkedin-inbox-details-viewLinkedIn, the social network for the professional world, has been going through a overhaul of every aspect of its platform. Today, it's the turn of the inbox, which is refreshing its inbox with better navigation and more instant information. In a way, it's LinkedIn's personal contribution to this week's trend among social platforms like Twitter and Instagram to revisit their messaging services.

December 06 2013

Overrun With Messaging Apps
photo (1)Because I'll install almost any app on my iPhone just to take a look, I've got a jam-packed folder called "messaging apps" that's now five pages deep. It includes only the big names, regional giants, and those newer arrivals buzzy enough to secure coverage on TechCrunch or other tech blogs. You know, recently. The situation is getting out of hand.

December 03 2013

The New Wins Auction For The Old's Assets
Mobile messaging startup announced a couple of weeks ago that its assets were being auctioned off. Now it looks like the auction is over. The winner? Well, technically it's " 2014 Inc.," but founder Keith Teare (who also co-founded TechCrunch) said the new company's goal is to continue the same work: "And from a user point of view, we hope not to skip a beat."

November 21 2013

Link-Sharing Service Potluck's New App Combining Messaging And News, Including Original Content
Everything's a messaging app now! Potluck, the link-sharing service from the team behind the social conversation service Branch, began as a simple tool allowing users to share their interesting findings from around web with a community where the focus was not on the people doing the sharing, but rather on the content. Today, with the release of Potluck version 2.0, the app is transforming itself into a hybrid messaging and news service, where people comment around topics they want to discuss.

October 28 2013

Meet Telegram, A Secure Messaging App From The Founders Of VK, Russia's Largest Social Network
Created by the founders of Russia's biggest social networking platform, Telegram is a new messaging app that offers speed, security and features such as secret chats with end-to-end encryption and self-destructing messages.

September 26 2013

BlackBerry Will Release A Painful-To-Use BBM App For Desktops
Despite its recent acquisition, BlackBerry announced it will be releasing a desktop BBM app at BlackBerry Jam Asia 2013 this week. Unfortunately, the long-overdue app leaves much to be desired. BBM will come to desktops, starting with Windows-based PCs. Since the bulk of BlackBerry’s core customers were enterprise clients, these customers spent a lot of time behind their desks. This release should have come way earlier. But even more striking, the desktop implementation of the messaging service is awful. After installing the app, users will have to link their phones with their computers, probably through Wi-Fi. If you’re in a coffee shop and want to send a quick message from your laptop, you’ll first have to find a way to connect your phone to your computer. It’s the PlayBook nonsense all over again. Messaging someone should be ubiquitous and effortless. You shouldn’t have to wonder whether your phone is still turned on to send a message from your computer. Some applications allow you to send text messages from your computer. But the point of BBM is that it’s not SMS — it’s supposed to be better. Moreover, BBM messages go through BlackBerry’s servers, just like Facebook messages, iMessages, WhatsApp messages, etc. And these other services don’t reroute all your messages through your phone. That’s why limiting BBM to one device at a time is a serious flaw that should have been fixed. Many people have a phone, a tablet and a computer and want to use the same services on those three devices. In its current implementation, that’s not possible without a dirty hack for BBM. Due to multitasking limitations, iOS users will even sometimes need to relaunch the app to deliver the desktop messages — that is, if BlackBerry can fix their servers and actually launch BBM for iOS and Android. There is no release date yet, and the company only showed the Windows version at the conference. WhatsApp doesn’t have a desktop client, so you might say that BBM’s release is better than nothing. But BBM for desktop 2.0 will have to be more than a simple interface that redirects your messages to your phone. For now, it’s just an empty shell.

September 17 2013

PubNub Picks Up Another $11M Led By ScaleVP To Build Out Its API-Based Real-Time Services Network
PubNub, a provider of APIs that publishers, developers and others can use to implement messaging, video and other social services on apps and websites, has picked up an $11 million round of funding that it will use to add more services to its network and build out its sales and marketing operations. This Series B round was led by Scale Venture Partners and included participation from existing investors Relay Ventures and TiE Angles, and takes the total raised by the company to $15.5 million.

September 10 2013

Ansa Is A Messaging App That Lets You Talk Off The Record
Ansa is a new breed of messaging app, one that allows you to be yourself. Whenever you don’t feel like sending messages that will stay on your friend’s phone, you can go off the record. Every message will be deleted 60 seconds after reading it. This is just one of many privacy features that will make messaging more personal. Launching onstage at Disrupt SF, the app is now available on iOS and Android. “The difference with other texting apps is that everything you say is permanent,” founder and CEO Natalie Bryla told me in a phone interview before Disrupt. “If you think about that, you will want to use another app that allows you to talk more freely,” she continued. The main feature is the off-the-record button. After hitting a button, your recipient is notified of the change. Both your messages and the responses will be deleted. At any point, you can go back on the record and the recipient will be notified. But it doesn’t stop there. If you think you shouldn’t have sent a message, you can delete it hours, days or even months after sending it. It not only deletes it on your phone, it deletes it on your recipient’s phone as well. This feature is called “sync deletion.” All Ansa features put you in control of your conversation. When you delete a message, it is deleted from Ansa’s servers at the same time. It’s effectively gone forever. However, for your regular on-the-record converstations, Ansa keeps everything on its servers like Facebook does. It allows you to use another phone and find your conversation history. Finally, you can send self-destructing messages. While this feature is very reminiscent of ephemeral startup Snapchat, Ansa allows you to send text messages, photos and videos. And it’s just an additional feature that makes sense to the service. The app allows you to communicate in more creative ways. You can apply filters to your pictures and draw goofy things before sending them. If you want to communicate using a popular song or a cute image, you can search Google images and YouTube without ever leaving the app. All Ansa features put you in control of your conversation. To notify you when your friends join Ansa, the app allows you to sync your address book and Facebook account. But it seems like Ansa users are going to use the messaging app only with a

July 24 2013

Video Texting App Glide Is Going Viral, Now Ranked Just Ahead Of Instagram In App Store
Video chatting app Glide is on a roll of sorts. In recent weeks this mobile messenger for iPhone and Android devices has been climbing the app store charts on both platforms, having gotten as high as #6 overall in the Apple App Store, and #1 in the App Store's social networking section. Today, the iPhone app is ranked #16 in the U.S., Glide's top market - just one spot below Instagram, according to AppData's leaderboards. But on the iPhone App Store on the phone, it has actually bumped Instagram from spot #15 in the U.S.

July 09 2013

Online Workspace Becomes, Now Focused On Email-Based Collaboration
Dispatch, the NYC-based startup launched out of the TechCrunch NYC 2011 hackathon, is flipping its product on its head - it's shifting from a project management tool with email features to become an email product with project management features. The change, explains the company founders, was inspired by the real-world activity of its users, which today number in the tens of thousands.

June 03 2013

Nimbuzz Offers Free Service To Hutch In Sri Lanka, Continues To Push Telco Strategy in Asia
Nimbuzz is continuing its push for South Asian dominance with its latest telco partnership. The Indian messaging startup just announced a tie-up with Hutch in Sri Lanka, offering six months of free Nimbuzz usage to Hutch subscribers. Today’s announcement is just another in a steady string of telco partnerships that the company has been striking up. In May, it linked up with Mobilink in Pakistan, to give the telco’s 35 million subscribers access to Nimbuzz at a flat cost. The deal was similar to one that Nimbuzz made with India’s Aircel in February. The company has a total of eight telco tie-ups in India, covering nearly 75 per cent of the country, except for Vodafone’s users, said Vikas Saxena, Nimbuzz’s CEO. The point of all these deals is to ease friction in getting Nimbuzz on phones in the country. Saxena explained that billing continues to be an issue in Asia, where credit cards are not as common as they are in the West. Here, telco billing is one of the easier ways to reach users, offering the option of prepaid credit or through monthly phone bills. ”Ringtones and ringback tones sell (over phones) like hotcakes here, even though you can download these over the Internet,” he said. Telco billing is a strategy that even music providers in Asia have turned to. KKBOX and Deezer, for example, have used carrier tie-ups in the region to reach users more effectively. A second reason for the telco tie-ups is that bundled offerings are especially necessary in price-sensitive markets like India and the neighboring countries. In the Aircel deal, for example, signing up for Nimbuzz granted users 40Mb of data per month to use. It doesn’t sound like much, but it helps in a country where people hold multiple SIM cards to use different offers from rival telcos, such as more voice minutes from one and free texts from another. The smartphone messaging landgrab Nimbuzz has a total of 150 million users, and counts more than 210,000 new registrations per day. 25 million of its users are in India. Its plans to stake a claim to South Asia is not unchallenged. Other Asian messengers are eyeing new markets too, and have large existing user bases to pull new users toward them. Tencent’s WeChat app has a base of 300 million subscribers, and Japan’s Line just passed 150 million. US-based WhatsApp has 200 million active monthly users.
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