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Samsung supports Android, others with new ChatON service

by Kristen Nicole

Samsung’s hedging its bets across mobile operating systems with its new instant messaging service ChatON. Based on its own software platform Bada, ChatON will come pre-installed on Samsung devices running on major platforms, including Android, BlackBerry and Bada. The messaging app also supports iOS devices, giving Samsung an expansive grab of the market. With smartphone sales exceeding Apple’s, Samsung could have a strong entry into this crowded space, as the handset maker hopes to further lure consumers to its devices.

ChatON is a free messaging application, with texting, group chat messaging, as well as media-sharing. With two versions of ChatON, users can keep it basic or get more complex with social interactions, including profile comments, animated messages and quick filters for most frequently contacted friends. Engadget reports that Samsung plans a web version of ChatON for PCs as well. With a global reach for handsets, ChatON will support dozens of languages across 120 countries, aiming to be a truly international communication hub.

One company ChatON will be competing with is Skype, which already has cross-platform and cross-device support, along with integration in major social networks like Facebook. Skype also expanded its portfolio by acquiring popular Android group messaging tool GroupMe last week. The Wall Street Journal also runs a few stats on a home-based competitor, Kakao Talk. The free messaging service has a stronghold on the South Korean market but also has worldwide appeal, with a reported 22 million subscribers, including about 4 million foreign customers in Japan and the U.S.

Storms and lawsuits hold Samsung back

Samsung’s global reach is also being hindered in a few ways, from Hurricane Irene to Apple’s own storm of lawsuits. Shipping of the Samsung Galaxy S2 smartphone has been delayed due to the east coast terror Hurricane Irene, while Apple’s managed to get Samsung smartphone sales blocked in a couple of European countries including Germany, and Samsung’s Australian tablet debut has been delayed because of Apple as well. Combined with Verizon’s recent decision to not sell the recently released, Android-powered Galaxy S2, and Samsung’s got a few obstacles to overcome in order to maintain its worldwide hold on the market.