Dutch startup Nimbuzz , which bills itself as the “mobile Skype” have just announced an IM application for Android phones which ties together multiple messaging tools (Skype, MSM, Yahoo, ICQ, Google Talk, etc.) via a single interface. The app is now available for download.
The Nimbuzz trump card is Skype VOIP. Unfortunately the Android app doesn’t yet include this but it is available in the iPhone app. The Android application also supports many local social networks like Hyves (dominant in the Netherlands) and a nifty time-sensitive user interface which does things like detecting how long a user presses on a contact; a quick click opens the contact’s profile while a long click opens a chat window.
Nimbuzz has also released to us the results of a survey of 21,000 users which reveals some interesting differences in how people in different parts of the world communicate. In Europe and the US, users want to check who is online as well as indicate their own presence and tend to mainly communicate with people they already know. In APAC and the Middle East users communicate with a higher number of people (over 15 in APAC) and are considerably more open to meeting new people in chatrooms. In fact, globally, 53.3% of Nimbuzz users communicate with people they have met online and 59.1% have made more online friends since joining Nimbuzz, though whether that is directly down to Nimbuzz is debatable.
When it comes to IM clients, strangely enough MSN is dominant in Europe while Facebook chat claims a large chunk of American users. Chat is used by the majority but VOIP is catching up especially in the Middle East and North Africa. Another significant, and related, difference is the networks being used to access the mobile Internet. Wi-Fi is the majority choice in the US and Europe while GPRS is still dominant in APAC (68%) demonstrating that market’s continuing love affair with mobile networks.
Currently most users are the prototypical “early adopters”, 41% of which already use mobile Internet daily. However, one trend which could signal that Nimbuzz is headed for the mass market is the rapid increase in female users. Until very recently the user base was 97% male and this has dropped to 85%. In fact, in the Middle East, the majority of users are single women who favour VOIP over chat. Since Nimbuzz is adding 1 million users a month, the company is rapidly becoming a serious force in this market to rival the likes of eBuddy (which itself just passed 1.2 million downloads a week from GetJar) and Meebo. Personally, I would keep an eye on whoever manages to enthrall those all-important female users.