In 2000, as world Internet and mobile players were discussing the next “killer app” in the form of a mobile instant messenger that might hopefully soon be created, a Manila-based company quietly released Chikka Text Messenger on beta.
Chikka’s breakthrough had been in marrying IM technology seamlessly with SMS, and then building a back-end that would withstand its use by the world’s ‘text capital’ – The Philippines.
2010: Chikka for the New Digital Generation
Ten years later, Chikka has served over 68 million people who had registered on-line and via mobile to enjoy the way Chikka had united on-line Filipinos with the sea of SMS users. The company is also releasing the latest version of its Chikka Text Messenger.
“Back in 2000, Internet penetration in the country was a mere 2% but many had mobile phones and we were already a texting culture,” said Chikka founder Dennis Mendiola. “We enabled Filipinos to connect to an on-line IM community via texting which was second nature to us.”
Today, a “digital generation” has emerged and 30% of Filipinos have Internet access taking part in social networks and becoming active in social media. Mobile penetration is closer to 80%.
“We saw this during the great reawakening and national mourning for the passing of former President Cory Aquino. We witnessed it again as Typhoon Ondoy brought great floods to the Capital and the Youth, with their Internet and mobile tools helped relay information for mobilization and disaster relief,” said Mendiola.
Thus is setting for Chikka latest version release.
“Chikka is more relevant than ever. We observe for example that a lot of casual messaging previously exchanged via text has shifted to the social networks. Our latest version is being released, combining the cool convenience of sending an IM message when one is on-line with the personal warmth, immediacy even urgency of receiving a message as text, instantly read on ones phone,” Mendiola added.
Promoting even higher utility for the community, the new Chikka version features P1.00 replies during off-peak hours when a lot of Global Filipinos are driving message traffic to friends and loved ones mobiles in the Philippines. Unlimited text packages akin to popular UNLI packages being offered by Philippine telcos are also now available all day.
It is also interoperable with Google Talk while Chikka is working on partnering with other instant messaging applications to make it easier for users to keep in touch.
“In 2010, there were over 16 million visits to the Chikka site from 215 countries during a one month period,” CIO Dennis Mendiola said. “Even though there are a lot of technological advancements in the communications industry, Chikka still remains to be the preferred communications tool for Global Pinoys.”
According to Mendiola much of the work that went into the “new Chikka” actually happened in the back-end with a major re-architecture.
This allows the company to pursue a technology roadmap that will very soon enable Chikka for any platform and operating system, for any IM aggregator, and also for any mobile device, Already a 3rd party developer has released an iPhone App. Chikka for its part is set to unveil its own app for the iPhone, as well as Blackberry and Android devices.
“The idea is for Chikka users to be able to access it on numerous communications platforms,” Mendiola said. “Simply put, as long as you have a computer or mobile phone, you can use Chikka.”