Nokia, the handset manufacturer with the largest-but-depleting marketshare in India, has launched ‘We Meet‘, marking its entry into the Group SMS segment, also known as the “we-like-the-color-of-money-when-it-burns” segment. The Group SMS format is in the the one-to-many and many-to-many format, where members of a group can send a text message to all with just one message, and at the cost of a single message.

Apparently, the launch has been on the cards for a while – last year, Nokia had invited some bloggers in Bangalore to preview the application.

Challenges

1. Limited Base: The problem for Nokia in achieving scale with this service is that it is limited largely to a Nokia base, and with services like SMS GupShup quite popular, it doesn’t yet have anything compelling to offer over and above existing services. An argument might hold that they’ll get a piece of a large market, but then Nokia has to consign itself to being the third in this space. Which it probably is doing already in the smart phone market.

2. Application Only, Text Interface Not Launched? At that time it had introduced the application last year, Nokia had discussed three options for texting – a Java based application, a text/SMS service (like SMS Gupshup / ibibo SMS / Google SMS / Tagg.in), and a web interface. The text interface was available with a Bangalore long code (details), but judging by Nokia’s WeMeet website, it hasn’t been launched, and there’s only one option – the mobile application (screenshots here).

The good thing about the application is that one can easily create and locate groups through the mobile interface; the conversation is apparently threaded, and goes straight to your WeMeet inbox. Of course, GupShup* and Google could easily and quickly emulate the app interface. Also note that the app is Java only, and the focus is primarily on Nokia handsets. That’s another point in favor of independent services.

Promotion

According to it’s website, Nokia is hosting promotional on-ground events at locations in Chennai and Delhi, and is running contests, trying to increase usage. One part of the site that hasn’t been updated yet is the Buzz ‘N Updates segment, which if done well, could create a compelling use case for the service. That’s where Nokia could probably tie up with Buzz In Town, Times City or Burrp.

* Speaking of apps, looks like that there hasn’t been much enthusiasm among developers for GupShup’s AppShup: only 24 SMS based apps listed there.