WhatsApp. Viber. Line. Snapchat. Facebook Messenger. The over-the-top messaging market is already packed with apps that have carved out niches with sticker packs, disappearing images, and doodles: anything to stand out. Chaatz debuts today for iOS with a more serious mission: to connect the entire world with one platform.
If that tagline sounds familiar, it should. The developers behind Chaatz built Facebook's mobile site for feature phones, the low- to mid-tier phones that aren't connected to the Internet. The app, coming next week to Android, is designed to give even SIM-less devices the ability to send messages as if from a phone. You can create multiple profiles in the app connected to different phones numbers — one for your work phone, one for your personal line — for a centralized messaging database.
One of the app's most distinctive features is what cofounder Arnie Chaudhuri calls the Chaatz number: A proxy phone number assigned to you when you install the app that can serve as your main contact if you want it to. You can hand out the number to people who don't really need to know your personal information, and Chaatz will forward messages sent to that alias number to the app.
"Others outside will never be in contact with your actual phone number," Chaudhuri said.
The alias number is essential to the founders' vision of a messaging app that connects the emerging mobile world to the smartphone-centric one. That ambitious long-term plan also extends to wearables. Chaudhuri expects the Chaatz number to pair with smartwatches and other devices so you won't need a phone nearby to receive messages.
"We want to be a trendsetter in the wearables market for messaging," he said. "That's a long-term bigger vision for us. The biggest one will be connecting the feature phone market. We want to take out all that fragmentation you have in communication platforms."
First, Chaatz has to convince users that they really need another messaging app. More stickers, anyone?
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