Riva FZC, which runs low-cost international calling service Ringo, has launched a business chat service called Flock. This free service allows businesses of any size to chat in a one-to-one (between colleagues and team members) and group setting. Any number of users can be included on the platform, and the Flock app is available across platforms – Android, Windows PC, Mac, Linux and iOS (the iOS app is pending approval and is expected to be available to users shortly).
Riva founder and CEO Bhavin Turakhia, who is also the founder of Mumbai-based web products company Directi that was acquired by HostGator owner Endurance earlier this year, told Medianama that they intend to keep Flock as a free-to-use service, unlike other players in this space that offer a combination of free and premium plans.
Flock allows employees to sign in using their work email, and automatically syncs the entire office directory to every employee’s device. This is something services like WhatsApp and Skype don’t provide. Also, on public instant messaging services an employee’s personal and business communications get mixed up, which won’t happen on Flock. It also allows external members (like clients) to be included in the chats. Users can share files as well, which are stored for a period of 30 days after which it’s removed from Flock’s server. Team members not on Flock can also be messaged, and they will receive an email notification with the message(s).
How to get Enterprise clients onboard?
Turakhia agreed that getting enterprise clients to adopt a new communication platform is a major challenge. However, he said that Flock would try to target small groups (teams and project groups) within the organization and get them to adopt the communication tool. This is believes will lead to wider adoption.
Flock vs. Competition
Globally, there are a number of similar services, including Altassian’s HipChat, CoTap, Flickr founder built Slack, and ex-Skype engineers developed Fleep, among others. The features offered by them are more or less similar. However, none of them really focus of the Indian market. Turakhia said that just like a host of public messaging services such as WhatsApp, Viber, Line, etc have managed to co-exist, there is space for multiple players in the business messaging space. He also said that though Flock had launched globally they would equally focus on India as any other region. This could be their biggest advantage.
WhatsApp claims to have close to 65 million active users in India (as of August 2014). Its userbase has been rapidly increasing in the country, and a large number of these users juggle to use it both as a personal and business communication tool. A service like Flock would be a perfect fit in this space.