Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Wednesday Social - Bundled Mobile Instant Messaging

Today at The Wednesday Social, it’s time to explore how some of the original online social networking – chats – have transitioned onto the mobile scene. To some it may make sense to start with the individual chat applications (AIM, ICQ, MSN) and work up to the more elaborate applications, but if you’re reading this blog, you’d probably rather we jump off the diving board into the deep end instead of sticking our toes in the shallow pool. The four applications we’ll focus on today all use your data plan (no text messaging rates apply!) and sync up multiple messengers into one, easy-to-operate chat machine.

Fring is a free talk, live-chat and interaction tool used with your Internet data plan or WiFi that bundles Skype, MSN Messenger, Google Talk, ICQ, SIP, Twitter, Yahoo! and AIM. It gives you the ability to search your buddy list and add-on functions, such as Facebook, Gmail Notifier and Vtap Video Streaming. Perhaps what sets it apart from others is its ability to make local and international calls over an Internet connection without having to use your voice plan, potentially saving you money through the use of SkypeOut/SkypeIn. Also, Fring automatically logs your phone into your favorite WiFi hot spots, saving you the time and hassle. While Fring is not yet available for the iPhone, the tool is available on most handsets.

Palringo is another free chat service. It bundles ICQ, MSN Messenger, AIM, Google Talk Yahoo!, Gadu-Gadu and Jabber. Palringo also has its own chat service, which works on both your PC and your mobile phone. With Palringo, you can exchange text, photos and vocal IMs (think Walkie-Talkie), which can be especially useful for those of you who still can’t get the QWERTY keyboard or touchscreen typing down. Palringo allows you to create and join groups and is free for Windows Mobile, Symbian, Java, Blackberry and iPhone.

Some say free is best and others say you get what you pay for, so for those of you looking to pay for social networking, there are two options available to you. First, Agile Mobile includes your basic and most popular chat tools, MSN Messenger, AIM, Yahoo!, ICQ and Google Talk. Agile allows instant messaging, photo messaging, video messaging, and voice messaging. It is available on Nokia and Sony Ericsson phones, as well as all Windows Mobile and Pocket PC operating systems for $11.95 for a three-month period or $44.95 one-time licensing fee. Nervous about paying for the service? Start off with a free trial. Agile is also in a Beta trial for Java and is coming soon to an iPhone near you.

IM+ All-In-One Mobile Messenger bundles MSN Live, AIM, Yahoo!, Google Talk, ICQ, Jabber and MySpace IM. iPhone users receive free access to the service, while others have to fork out some dough. Prices vary between operating systems, starting low with Java ($9.95) and i-mode ($19.95) and capping off with Pocket PC ($39.95) and Blackberry ($49.95) at the high end. Windows Mobile, Symbian and Palm OS are $29.95. And for those of you looking forward to your new G1, IM+ for Android is in development.

There are plenty of options for chatters out there. For everyone who bundles their chats on their PCs, that same luxury is available on your cell phone. Especially for all the devices that run programs in the background – unfortunately, it’s a functionality that iPhone cannot perform – you can stay connected to your friends and colleagues no matter where you are. Chatting has never been easier.

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