Mobile instant messaging and VoIP company Nimbuzz will be launching a conference call facility on its platform, reports The Hindu Business Line. Vikas Saxena, CEO at Nimbuzz, informed the publication that the feature will be live in one or two quarters. Audio conferencing isn’t new: remember Jaxtr and Sabeer Bhatia’s ‘Sabse Bolo’? Jaxtr had audio conferencing, although that was done differently, and quite cumbersome.
Interestingly, Nimbuzz also plans to introduce its video calling feature on mobile platforms other than iOS, where the company doesn’t see much demand for it. Video calling might involve high bandwidth costs, or require a reliable connection, which is probably why mobile messengers such as Viber, WeChat, among others are providing voice chat (which is asynchronous), instead of video calling.
Nimbuzz competes with Viber when it comes to voice over IP, and while Viber doesn’t have audio conferencing, it’s interesting to note that Viber had mentioned in May this year that both video calls, group messaging and audio conferencing are on its product roadmap.
While Nimbuzz was quite favored by early smartphone users in the country, its popularity has dwindled in last couple of years with the introduction of mobile messengers, which have been assisted by their seamless integration with mobile platforms.
In May 2013, there were reports that the company was planning to offer Internet telephony services along with its existing IM service in India, and apply for a new unified license.
Competitors: The mobile messengers market is already flooded with many new entrants. There’s WhatsApp, Bharti Softbank’s Hike, WeChat, Line, Viber, among others. Many of these messengers offers voice chat features.
By adding a conference call facility, Nimbuzz hopes to provide something different to its users. But then, how long before other messengers replicate the feature?
While Saxena did say that implementing the concall feature is “complex”, but it doesn’t look like these well funded mobile messengers would find it difficult to replicate the feature. That said, concall feature is good to have and not must have.
(with inputs from Nikhil Pahwa)