Mix open instant messaging protocol Jabber with mobile phones and you get Mabber, a new product from a team based in Cologne, Germany. The team at Mabber were early adopters of the Jabber protocol and with the lower mobile data charges in their home country decided to develop an application that would allow mobile users to communicate with each other using the protocol, thus save on SMS costs. Mabber is a product of New Media Management, a German company that runs some of the countries largest web properties such as neu.de and pkw.de,
Mabber have put together a very experienced and solid team that totals six people, starting with Nico Lumma who runs the team and directs the business (he is also a very popular blogger in Germany). Other members of the team include Florian Holzhauer (who is a member of the Jabber foundation), Stefan Strigler, Jens Ohlig, Oliver Lauer and Christian Horchert.
Mabber primarily uses the Jabber protocol but they also have support for the other networks such as MSN, Yahoo!, AIM – this is so that you don’t need to lose contacts or functionality with your existing IM provider in switching to mabber. Mabber supports all these protocols in-line, meaning that once you have the account setup you see your contacts on that network along with your other contacts from other networks and the primary mabber network.
There are two parts to the mabber application. The first is the web application which can be accessed from any browser. As with Meebo, these guys have spent a lot of time on refining the user experience. The first thing I noticed was that the chat windows did not have any re-draw effects and seemed to work seamlessly – no weird delays with the client polling the server, just instant reactions. Second what I noticed is all the rich features. They have extended through all the popular features of desktop IM clients such as chat history (which can be fully searched later), grouping (and group chat), and context menu’s to bring up the options.
The web interface on it’s own will give Meebo a run for it’s money, but the magic with Mabber is on mobile devices. To install the mobile application you go to the site and enter your mobile number, you in return receive an sms with a download link, you follow that, it installs, executes, you enter your username and password and you are online. From that point you are able to access all your IM contacts and communicate with them using a standard mobile keypad. This will save people a lot on SMS costs (which are just blatant robbery in most countries at the moment) and allow people to communicate more effectively. I know that this is not the first mobile IM app, but the combination of this team, the protocol they have chosen, their simple application and both mobile and browser based interfaces means that Mabber stand a strong chance of success.
I have been using Mabber for almost a day now and I am currently evaluating if this is my Meebo replacement. Nico has been talking about a few features they have due during the course of this week including tabbed chatting windows, content delivery to mobile devices and other improvements. These guys are releasing very frequently and their private beta has been going well to date. They intend on going out strong in the German market and I am sure they will do well in other markets especially if ordinary consumers find the service as easy to install and use as I did.
Use Mabber Now: Mabber have been kind enough to give away 50 beta invitations for Techcrunch readers. If you would like to check out a really cool IM app that works on mobile devices then send through an email to email@example.com with the subject line of ‘TECHCRUNCH!!!!!’ and you will be sent an invitation in return.