Olongapo Telecom & Information Technology

Thursday, December 11, 2008

RP mobile instant messaging to explode

Mobile instant messaging will explode in Asia with potential subscribers reaching about 45 million over the next years, an executive said.

The Philippines, known to be a big market for short messaging service (SMS), is also seen as one of the emerging and growing markets for mobile instant messaging, an executive from application developer NeuStar said.

Neustar has partnered with Philippine wireless operator Globe Telecoms to deliver mobile instant messaging to handsets via its Unlichat service.

Introduced in September, Unlichat brings Yahoo! instant messaging to handsets and is offered free as trial service for Globe subscribers. Unlichat will become a paid service later this month, according to Glen Murray, senior vice president of global sales of NeuStar.

“In terms of market trend, the Philippines is a chatty marketplace as reflected in the way texting is used in the country. We introduced the service as we see great market potential in mobile instant messaging,” Murray said in a telephone interview with INQUIRER.net.

Using NeuStar's Mobile Messaging Gateway (MMG) and a host of clients for different handsets, Globe subscribers are now able to access Yahoo! Messenger from their handsets wherever they are, said Murray.

Globe subscribers can enjoy most of the functionality available with PC-based instant messaging on their handsets, he said.

The executive said that mobile instant messaging service is targeted at markets with low PC penetration, as the service offers an alternative for users to access chat services via handsets.

For this year, NeuStar plans to set its footprint in the Philippines and enter the Vietnam market next year, the executive said.

Unlichat is a service made for consumers and not business users, said Murray.

Citing market statistics, he said the highest volume of data is generated by users aged 14 to 21 years old who are also heavy users of instant messaging.

Murray cited the service can be used in national events like the upcoming elections.

"Through Unlichat, we will be able to provide our subscribers with a rich messaging experience -- one which allows them to stay connected to the popular Yahoo! Messenger while on-the-go," said Minette Navarrete, head of multimedia business group at Globe, in a statement.

“Mobile instant messaging offers three-way dialogue,” said Murray.

Compared to SMS or text messaging, mobile instant messaging gives users “presence.” This is usually reflected in the status message once users start the instant messaging application on their phones, he said.

Murray said the company is optimistic that the Philippine market will grow and be successful like Europe, which sends half million messages via mobile instant messaging per month.

Key challenges to market penetration of mobile instant messaging services include the availability of handsets that support GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) network, which is required to run the Java application Unlichat, said Murray.

Neustar has offered the Yahoo! Messenger platform in the Philippines because most Filipinos use the service, Murray said.

In Singapore, Hong Kong and Macau in China, the company has offered the MSN Messenger due to its high usage in these markets.

Unlichat is downloadable mobile application offered by Globe through its website. It is also an embedded mobile application for newer handset models.

NeuStar has also partnered with 3 Indonesia in Indonesia, Starhub in Singapore and 3HK in Hong Kong. By Anna Valmero - INQUIRER.net

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