Nimbuzz Android Launches

Android owners can now talk, chat with their contacts on a host of social networks or IM/VoIP services from a single interface.

By Ted Stevenson | Posted Aug 13, 2009
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Just about a month ago, Netherlands-based IM/VoIP service provider Nimbuzz launched an upgrade of its popular Apple iPhone/iPod Touch application. This week, the company unveiled its first Nimbuzz Mobile client application for the Android platform.

Nimbuzz's claim to fame is that it interconnects a wide variety of other discrete, non-interoperable IM/VoIP services—as well as providing VoIP services of its own over a variety of connection types. This lets users chat with and talk to friends on Skype, Google Talk, MSN/Windows Live Messenger, Facebook, MySpace, and other communities from a single interface and using a variety of devices—and without having to independently register for those services.

Moreover, the company and its application also embrace more local and more specialized communications networks, such as the German StudiVZ student community, Hyves in the Netherlands, and the popular Italian social networking service, Giovani.

According to Nimbuzz Head of Communications Tobias Kemper, despite the fact that Android thus far lags behind the Apple handsets in terms of numbers in use, "we are a mass market product and Android is a logical extension to our lineup of over 1000+ supported devices. We are starting with what we do well—bring out the best of the OS and the hardware to provide a superior user experience—then focus on adding more features."

Key to the Nimbuzz experience is the integrated interface that shoehorns a lot of information—avatar, presence status, service identification, and more—into very limited space. For the Android version, Nimbuzz engineers have added a few new, experimental touches, such as a time-sensitivity feature to the interface: A short press on a contact's name brings up his/her profile; a longer press initiates an IM session.

Also new is Auto reconnect, a feature that provides seamless switching between 2G, 3G, and Wi-Fi networks, and instantly reconnects calls when service has been interrupted for any reason.

Nimbuzz continues to grow apace, adding new users at the rate of about 30,000 per day or roughly 1 million per month. According to Kemper, the company is dedicated to the idea that its services will be—and remain—free. The company's revenue will come from partnerships with carriers, like the one with O2 (aka Telephonica Europe), announced last month,in which the Nimbuzz client application will be pre-loaded onto the carrier's new high-end, multi-mode phones.

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