Unlike Blackberry's BBM or Apple's upcoming iMessages, ChatON will work across platforms, including Android, iOS, Blackberry and Samsung's Bada OS. There will also be a version available for feature phones.
The service supports one-on-one discussions as well as group messaging. In addition to standard text-based messages, users can send eachother images and even simple animations.
ChatON is the latest mobile messaging solution to offer a potential alternative to the widely-used short messaging service (SMS) protocol, which carriers have historically relied on as a significant source of revenue. We mentioned BBM and iMessages, the latter of which will be included with the release of iOS 5 in the Fall. Last week, Skype acquired group messaging startup GroupMe. In March, Facebook bought Beluga, another cross-platfform group messaging app.
With established tech companies snatching up startups and new services launching left and right, group mobile messaging is clearly a a hugely significant trend this year.
Of course, truly disrupting SMS as a messaging protocol is no easy feat considering its universal adoption. Users of virtually any mobile phone, regardless of the rest of its feature set, can use SMS without installing an extra app or taking any additional steps. At the very least, these new mobile messaging services will provide a partial alternative, allowing consumers to reduce their reliance on SMS and, perhaps in the process, save a few dollars.