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News  26, Jun 2014

BeamIt shines a light on visually rich chats

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US-based company Cooliris has split its eponymous media hub app into a chat messenger. Will this work in Asia?

A picture is worth a thousand words, but a photograph from a loved one miles away means so much more. Unfortunately, the current chat apps on our smartphones do not respect such media content, said Soujanya Bhumkar, CEO, Cooliris.

The US-based company has today launched BeamIt, a mobile chat app looking to change how consumers look at sending photographs through messaging apps.

As a messaging app, BeamIt is able to differentiate itself from its sister app Cooliris, which works as a media hub. Bhumkar added that the ‘Group’ feature on the main Cooliris app will “go away” soon. Is splitting one app into two a current trend with social platforms? After all, Foursquare recently announced the launch of Swarm, and Facebook with Facebook Messenger.

There are several noteworthy features on BeamIt. For example, users can share hundreds of photos at one go without interrupting the conversation since photos will be uploaded in the background. In addition, users can also “unsend” images and delete photographs from an entire group. Furthermore, there is offline support for composing and curating, so users do not have to incur data costs or roaming charges while interacting with friends and family members via BeamIt.

He added, “Pixels have replaced characters or alphabets… You can’t treat media as attachments.”

Also Read: Tablets worth US$935M sold in SEA from Jan to Apr this year

The freemium app will look to generate revenue through in-app purchases, which will only appear in subsequent versions of BeamIt, according to an official statement. There are also plans to go into the business-to-business space. Bhumkar brought up media agencies that want to share certain images with clients internally.

BeamIt is currently available only on iOS for the iPhone and iPad. According to Bhumkar, the web and Android versions will be released in four and six weeks’ time respectively.

Asians are savvy with technology, media
Home to 4.299 billion people, according to Population Reference Bureau World Population Data Sheet 2013, Asia is home to a few of the leading chat apps in the world, including WeChat, KakaoTalk and LINE. People in Asia have become rather savvy with the internet and mobile technology.

Existing data from Cooliris shows that most photographs within Southeast Asia come from Malaysia, and that the greatest percentage of users sharing can be attributed to Thailand.

It was apparent during the interview that Japan, South Korea and Singapore are seen as extremely viable markets for Cooliris within Asia, given that these three markets are used to sophisticated interfaces and more advanced technology.

Bhumkar added that it is much easier to partner up with Asian companies and conglomerates as these firms usually have a better understanding of photo and media sharing services. “Asians are more proactive,” he concluded, which is something echoed by many US-based companies travelling into Asia for partnerships in the mobile and media realm.

Elaine Huang

Elaine Huang

Elaine is a fervent believer that if there ever is a zombie apocalypse, we will all be snapping away at them with our phones and posting them onto Instagram. A Mass Communication graduate of Ngee Ann Polytechnic's School of Film and Media Studies, she enjoys writing about technology and entrepreneurs. When not hashtagging her way through all sorts of trouble, Elaine is probably contemplating how to write in the third person.

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