Several years ago, in an attempt to save some money, a couple of developers wrote a cross platform messaging application called WhatsApp. To say it’s taken the world by storm would be an understatement. Now in case you’re one of the few people don’t know what WhatsApp is, here’s the basic idea: Operators charge too much for text messaging, so let’s all install an application on our phones that will send messages using mobile data. And instead of using a username and a password to authenticate ourselves, let’s just use our phone numbers. That’s it. There have been multiple clones since then, most notably Viber. Apple’s got iMessage, but that only works on their device.
Samsung, who saw all this happening, decided to enter the space too with something called ChatON. Like WhatsApp, it works on multiple platforms. Like WhatsApp, it helps people avoid paying SMS/MMS fees. But what about voice? According to the Czech site SamsungMania, Samsung is going to launch an updated version of ChatON called ChatONV; the “V” obviously representing the addition of voice chat. The device you see pictured above, which has ChatONV installed, is curiously the Samsung Galaxy Camera. We say curious because it doesn’t have the necessary hardware to support phone calls. The Galaxy Camera has a SIM slot though, so is Samsung hoping people will use ChatONV using a wired/wireless headset?
The biggest question on our minds is how are operators going to react to this app? AT&T, Verizon, Vodafone, and other wireless telcos, they all depend on charging you by the minute to stay alive. Data revenues are surging thanks to the increased popularity of smartphones, there’s no denying that, but “traditional” services still contribute a significant amount of revenue.
Expect to hear an official announcement about this soon, assuming Samsung doesn’t kill it.