eBuddy, the Dutch startup behind the eponymous mobile communication tool I dubbed the swiss army knife for instant messaging when it debuted an application for the Android platform last May, is announcing one hell of an iPhone application today. For context: eBuddy is a free mobile app that enables users to communicate with others using AIM, Facebook Chat, ICQ, Gtalk, Windows Live Messenger etc. in one, aggregated interface.
The application for the iPhone and iPod Touch the company is announcing today has quietly gone live in the App Store last week (iTunes link), but hasn’t been promoted in any way since until today. It brings a very strong competitor to the likes of Nimbuzz and fring, both of which have had native iPhone applications for a while now. Where eBuddy differentiates is in its support for Apple’s Push Notification Service, which allows a third-party server to ping the service in order to push out notifications to your device over a persistent IP connection.
You can see how that comes in handy for an instant messaging tool, since it basically acts as a replacement for text messages. When you exit the app, you’ll still be able to receive incoming messages from your contacts regardless of which IM client they choose to use (apart from Skype, but that’s another story), for 30 minutes initially.
At a later stage, the company expects to prolong this push notification window but strives to maintain a balance between a longer time and not putting too much strain on the device’s battery life.
I’m told that eBuddy already saw about 2 million people using its product from the iPhone or iPod Touch before the app actually hit the App Store, thanks to the web-based eBuddy Lite Messenger tool, but the free native application that was just released will likely convert most of those users to it in a short period of time.
In fact, many seem to have already done so despite the lack of a marketing push: according to stats provided by app store analytics startup Distimo, the eBuddy for iPhone application is currently already ranked #1 in 21 countries, within the top 5 in 31 countries, and within the top 10 in 37 countries in the free social networking application category.
Of course, a massive user base doesn’t equal massive revenue streams, especially not when you’re giving away a product for free. I asked eBuddy how it expects to make money from its mobile applications (they’re already doing quite well on the web version, I’m told), and CEO Jan-Joost Rueb said he wants to see an aggregate mobile app user base of 10 million uniques before they roll out monetization efforts like advertising and paid premium apps.
Rueb expects to hit that milestone by the end of this year based on its current growth path, so basically if the company can attract 4 million more mobile app users on top of its current 6 million ones, they’ll start deriving revenues from them in Q4 2009.