Monday, April 25, 2005

Chikka says it has 15M subscribers to mobile IM service

Chikka says it has 15M subscribers to mobile IM service

By Erwin Lemuel Oliva

SINCE the launch of its service in 2001, the Manila-based mobile technology provider Chikka said that subscribers to its mobile instant messaging service has grown to over 15 million.

"That number already includes the PC-based and mobile phone subscribers to the service," according to Chito Bustamante, chief operating officer of Chikka Asia Inc. He adds that there has been an average of 30,000 registrations in a day.

Chikka currently handles at least 10 million text messages in a day, says Bustamante.

Founded by a group of Filipinos who established the defunct e-commerce website, Chikka was one of the first local start-ups that focused on business of text messaging or short messaging service (SMS), close to the tail-end of the dotcom crash in 2000.

For the past four years, Chikka has built a business around text messaging technology. Its first "killer application" was Chikka

Text Messenger, combining the power of SMS and the Internet.

Chikka's mobile messaging service allows PC-based users to send a text message to a mobile phone subscriber. The phone subscriber can in turn reply to a sender for a fee--a technology eventually patented by the company.

Bustamante noted that five of the 15 million Chikka mobile messaging subscribers are PC-based, with at least three million of them PC-based users living abroad. This indicates a growing base of overseas Filipino workers using its mobile messaging service.

The technology behind Chikka Text Messenger was among the first of 20 patents granted by the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore under the International Patent Cooperation Treaty.

While there were similar mobile Instant Messaging applications when Chikka was launched, they didn't offer a reply-back feature, Bustamante said.

Chikka is now looking at expanding its mobile instant messaging to other countries through affiliates or partners. It has recently set up a wholly-owned subsidiary in China to bring this service to that country, the Chikka executive said.

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