WhatsApp, Viber, Yuilop, Facebook Messenger/Poke, Snapchat, and many, many others — the list of apps in the mobile social messaging space seems endless. But Finland’s Jongla thinks there’s room for one more. The company, whose legacy is in apps for feature phones, has re-booted with the launch of a youth-oriented and free social messaging app for iOS and Android (along with a HTML5 version), believing that the key to cutting through a noisy marketplace is personalisation. In version one of the app, this manifests itself through the ability to send animated virtual stickers, a fun and beefed up form of emoticons, which is also how the company plans to make money.
Like other mobile social messaging apps, Jongla is designed to circumvent the need to use SMS text messaging by piggybacking a user’s data connection to offer an Instant Messenger-like experience. Along with a nice design/UX, the app offers features such as syncing with the phone’s address book, the ability to send images directly from the phone’s camera roll to any contact, location sharing, and real-time feed back when a recipient is typing.
So far, so ‘me too’.
However, it’s the animated sticker feature, and personalisation in general, which Jongla hopes will help it stand out from the crowd and appeal to the 15-24 year old demographic that it’s targeting. At launch, a range of animated stickers are available, with more to be made available via an in-app store, including in-app purchasing of new stickers as a potential revenue stream. Whether or not this will be enough to make the app catch on, I’m not so sure, but then again I am squarely outside of Jongla’s intended audience.
To that end, Riku Salminen, COO of Jongla, says in a statement: “We’ve studied our target audience very closely and the ability to put their own stamp and identity on the products and services they use is pivotal. With our interactive ‘Stickers’, users can do this right now and soon more and more will be added”.
What that more will be will undoubtedly depend on how well Jongla’s stickers stick with users (pun intended). And as crowded as the market may be, there’s still a lot to play for, says the company — citing research by Juniper that suggests the number of Instant Messaging users will exceed 1.3 billion by 2016 and revenues from Application-to-Person (A2P) messaging will exceed $70b by 2016 and overtake Person-to-Person (P2P) SMS during the same year.