Instant messaging and the plug-and-go factor

Chat balloons

WhatsApp, Facebook Messaging, Google Hangouts, Viber, BBM, and a handful of others. Those are the new messaging channels. They are instant messaging platforms. Yahoo Messenger is still there too, but seems to be on life support. Whatever the individual players are and regardless of their state, instant messaging is the buzz these days, and for good reasons too. They are much cheaper than SMS, and allow a conversation in real time.

Personally, I am pretty much settled about what channel I want to use regularly. For me, WhatsApp is my de facto instant messaging platform. BBM (BlackBerry messenger) is likely to be another favourite of mine. The question is, Why these two? Any common grounds?

Let me put it this way: I believe that any instant messaging service that requires the user to login manually is a waste of time. This is where both WhatsApp and BBM have an edge. Power on your smartphone and they are almost instantly connected so long as there is an active internet service. No usernames. No passwords. I call it plug-and-go. I love that convenience. They are like your phones themselves. Switch them on and you are ready to go. I am tired of having to remember multiple login details for a gazillion services, and I am definitely tired of having to login to this service or the other at every turn.

I hope that cross-platform BBM will not stray from that level of convenience of plug-and-go. It would be a shame if it does.

Broken Communications

There are so many IM platforms, and none of them talk to the others. This is not like SMS. This is not like email. This is a big mess. Many users will juggle multiple IM channels. Conversations go missing sometimes, as you have to remember whether that business chat was done on WhatsApp, Hangouts or Facebook. Madness.

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In the past, I have talked about how SMS can evolve into an instant messaging service. At the network end, it costs next to nothing to send an SMS. There is no reason why SMS cannot evolve into an IM service. I still believe that one day, the networks will wake up and do the right thing: SMS that runs over packet data and charged at the prevailing mobile internet rates. Presto! Every other IM service takes a dive down the hill.

Until that happens, however, welcome to the cacophony that is instant messaging. Until that happens, I pitch for WhatsApp, and perhaps BBM (if the cross-platform experiment is also implemented as plug-and-go). These two are the platforms that offer the convenience closest to what SMS provides today.

Mister Mobility

I started blogging about mobile in 2004 as a fun way to share my passion for gadgets and mobile services. My other interests include digital media, speaking and teaching, photography, travelling, and dancing.

5 thoughts on “Instant messaging and the plug-and-go factor

  • June 3, 2013 at 8:08 am
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    Mister Mo, you just hit one of gripes about 2go on the head, even while I was on the E71 I was hated the fact that I had to remember to log into the service. now in the android version (with push notifications) still shows me the log in screen each time I launch the application (even though it doesn’t get shutdown in the background, achieved this with a mod).

    Instant messaging IMO should be instant just like SMS, turning on your device should be enough to activate it (an option of online status might be nice though).

    And on the cost of SMS, these days I find it cheaper to just pick up the phone and talk with the person than say use SMS..our operators are too bothered about profits to change the pricing of SMS.

  • June 3, 2013 at 8:55 am
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    i fear for whatsapp tho…if BBM is implemented as “plug and go” then whatsapp will become less popular. whatsapp is missing some key features. No notification center to show recent profile pic or status updates. that way u might not chat with someone for months even tho u re both online. but u dont know..

  • June 3, 2013 at 10:32 am
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    I agree with Olusheenor concerning the lack of notifications for new updates and profile pic, this would make it more interesting making it more of a social network rather than just another SMS replacement.

    I would also like to see notifications when you have a new contact (or when your friend joins whats app)

  • June 3, 2013 at 12:18 pm
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    Viber is another one that is good and have some edge over whatsapp.
    1. It supports voice call
    2. Option to enable location sharing
    , it has a lower user base than whatsapp.
    Like whatsapp, one does not need to log in each time.

  • June 3, 2013 at 9:19 pm
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    Wow, olusheenor and martinkem; those are very nice suggestions when you think about it. Hope they are implemented soon. Cheers!

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