Jongla makes instant messaging more social
Social networks and instant messaging used to be very different services. One Finnish company is helping those two phenomena join into something new.
Finns know a thing or two about messaging. They created Internet Relay Chat (IRC) and were the prime developers of Short Message Service (SMS). But now the Finnish company Jongla thinks it is time for yet another evolutionary leap.
“Our mission is to shake up the world of instant messengers,” proclaims Jongla’s CEO Riku Salminen.
Salminen and his cofounder Arto Boman started working on their idea in 2009, back when Symbian remained the main operating system for Nokia’s mobile phones. They knew SMS and MMS messages were limited and expensive in the new age of smartphones and wanted to improve the service.
“Instant messaging started off as a cheaper and more convenient replacement of MMS and SMS,” Salminen explains. “That basically meant sending text, emojis and images to the closest people in your life.”
But don’t think Jongla is just a messaging service. Salminen says that social media gives you the ability to create and share content, as well as build and be part of larger social networks. What if you could merge the two into something new and better?
“What we mean by blurring the lines between social networking and messaging apps is that social features are becoming part of instant messaging,” Salminen continues. “These features are large networks of people, profiles, status updates, events, interest groups, rich content sharing, making friends, dating and even customer service.”
Focus on emerging markets
Jongla already has a host of features which sets them apart from the crowded messaging market. The community named “People” helps users find and meet others nearby. “Reactions” are ways to express emotions, like smiles, thumbs-up or hearts.
Users can also record a voice message and add filters to the sound. “Jongla Out” allows a user to chat with someone regardless of their messaging platform.
Another important feature is how little data it uses. According to internal studies Jongla uses 80 per cent less data than Viber and 25 per cent less than Facebook Messenger. It also takes less space to download and install compared to major competitors. This is particularly important for the users in their main markets.
“Since the early days of Jongla we have seen strongest organic growth in Southeast Asia, especially in India, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia,” Salminen says. “Now we are seeing growth all over the globe, but due to our strategy the strongest response is coming from emerging markets.”
Services of the future
Jongla continues to develop their offering by adding new social features. In the coming months they are planning to add a layer of gamification to make it more fun, and they are also studying data-efficient calls. Yet their long-term plans are even bigger.
“Our plan is to become a ‘Platform of Things’, to go beyond messaging and become a platform that features new services,” Salminen concludes. “We want to keep on disrupting the market with new innovations which will make messaging possible for the next billion people around the world who will be connecting to the Internet for the first time with a personal device.
“Disruption and innovation is at the heart of Jongla.”
Text: David Cord