Those who used Samsung mobile phones between 2011 and late 2014 may remember ChatON. It was Samsung’s own WhatsApp unveiled in 2011.
ChatON was a messenger app that the company preloaded on most of its mobile devices back then indiscriminately. Smartphones, feature phones, tablets… all had ChatON. Samsung was so into that app that it unveiled several phones built around the messenger app. More so the internet-enabled feature phones of that era.
Samsung made ChatON available to pretty much every other smartphone running Android. In the process, ChatON managed to get over 100 million users, a no small feat by itself. However, towards the end of 2014, the likes of WhatsApp, WeChat, Line, Apple’s iMessage and several other messenger apps were clearly winning the mobile messaging wars and had impressive numbers to show for it. As a result, Samsung backed out, opting to retire ChatON instead of trying to outdo its competitors. It even went to bed with some of them (remember the partnership with BlackBerry that saw Samsung devices become the first to get BBM on Android?)
That is the past now and the company is looking ahead. Samsung announced on Tuesday that it had bought NewNet Communication Technologies, a Canadian based company specializing in Rich Communications Services (RCS).
RCS is simply an advanced messaging standard that builds upon the capabilities of SMS and MMS with added support for sharing more media and location data as well as tapping into a device’s contact list to identify other users on similar RCS-based apps.
According to a statement the company released following the acquisition, “The acquisition reinforces Samsung’s commitment to RCS as mobile networks transition to IP-based networks and services. This acquisition is a critical milestone not just for Samsung but also for the communications industry. As an end-to-end GSMA-compliant RCS solution, it will accelerate the deployment of RCS-enabled networks, providing consumers with a ubiquitous standards-based messaging and communications platform. The acquisition will also enable Samsung to offer interoperable server solutions for mobile operators that do not already have their own RCS infrastructure. By driving significant value for operators and consumers, the mobile communications market can benefit from the broader communications ecosystem.”
This in essence means that while we may or may not get to see a Samsung messaging app, the company will be out competing with the likes of Huawei when it comes to deploying RCS infrastructure necessary to facilitate such apps at the carrier/mobile network operator level.