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Samsung buckles under WhatsApp competition: ChatOn messaging service closing

Samsung has announced that it is discontinuing its mobile messaging service ChatOn from early next year.

According to CNET, the app will cease operating on 1 February 2015 everywhere outside of the US. The American version will shut down at a later date after “existing contractual obligations with US mobile carriers” are fulfilled.

Read more: Rumour: Google launching its own WhatsApp-killing messaging service

Samsung explained that the closure was finalised so it can focus on delivering its “core services.”

Instant messaging services have come a long way since the first platform to achieve mainstream popularity, Blackberry Messenger. While the service initially targeted business customers, young people soon began adopting BBM, due to the ability to send messages free-of-charge.

However, with Blackberry Messenger only able to connect with other Blackberry devices, many began using instant messaging apps that were compatible with more popular smartphones running Android or iOS operating systems. While BBM is now available cross-platform, its popularity has declined in the face of more successful rival services like WhatsApp, Viber and Kik.

ChatOn was launched in 2011 in an attempt to capture some of Blackberry Messenger’s market share. The app is available in more than 200 million countries and last year boasted of a 100-million strong userbase. Despite this, it seems to have been unable to keep pace with its competitors.

Last year, WhatsApp claimed that 64 billion messages were sent across its network on New Year ’s Eve alone and has an estimated 600 million active users. Facebook messenger, meanwhile has 500 million users.

Read more: WhatsApp and Facebook build huge global app engagement lead

Samsung has not revealed updated user figures for ChatOn, but the decision to close the service is likely to have been prompted by a decline in popularity.

Barclay has been writing about technology for a decade, starting out as a freelancer with IT Pro Portal covering everything from London’s start-up scene to comparisons of the best cloud storage services.  After that, he spent some time as the managing editor of an online outlet focusing on cloud computing, furthering his interest in virtualization, Big Data, and the Internet of Things.