November 21, 2006 by Soo
I did a review of some available WAP IM services that I use – TJAT, MSN Messenger on Mobile, 12WAP.
Frequent users can sign in automatically. The friends’ list is a combined one, displaying a user’s online and offline friends together. However the experience is almost similar to that on the internet, as the friends’ status is displayed with the same user-icon as on the web. The page keeps refreshing automatically which is a bit unsettling and could be slow depending on your connectivity. The Options menu is at the bottom of the page, which may involve a lot of scrolling if your friends list is long.
Users can add new friends & remove contacts from the list. There is also an option of Quick Messages which lets you send a ready made message to your friends. Users can also store frequently used messages like “Hello” in their Quick messages folder and re-use them.
Users can also send an email to a selected contact.
The service uses graphics effectively and economically so file sizes remain light, as graphics are used only on the contact list to show status and to create a good branding experience. Emoticons however are text-based.
The biggest plus point of this IM on mobile is that conferencing is possible with 2 or more contacts, which is not yet available on any other service. One major pain point I experienced was that I couldn’t manage to Sign out. It could be a bug or a phone issue.
The home page is confusing as the user is bombarded with links. Though the first field on the top of the page is Find (Search) but it’s not clear to the user. The Log in/Register link is right at the bottom of the page so the user has to scroll down to enter. After the user fills up the Registration form (which is quite long) he has to exit the browser and wait for an SI with his password to log in again.
The service is more like a social networking site and less like an IM, as everything is tagged and linked. Users can search based on almost any keyword. Navigating this site is very difficult and distracting as there are too many links on the small screen.
There are a number of parameters for the user to search – phone number, user name, handset, and ASL, hobbies, Blog, homepage, etc. Search results are very detailed and show the user’s photo along with all the different ways in which the person can be contacted (Message, SMS, Chat, Invite). However the user may find this confusing. There are some helpful features like Online (show online users) and charts (which show new users, users with testimonials, users with home page, etc). A user can create his own profile (which contains ASL, links to their calendar, contacts list, moblog, album, testimonials, handset model, homepage) on the site but he cannot accept invites from other users unless he subscribes.
Other paid activities are upload albums to 12WAP, accept Chat invites from other users, and view detailed profiles of other users. A free user can receive a chat invite but cannot accept them. This may be a good encouragement for the user to subscribe to the service.
Payment is by credit card over internet from a PC.
The WAP site uses graphics only for its branding on the main menu. The rest of the service does not have any graphics.
The service offers only MSN and ICQ, but a user cannot access both simultaneously. This is the main flaw. TJAT’s MSN messenger is a very stripped down version of the original but it serves the basic purpose. However I use MSN Messenger more frequently!
On TJAT MSN messenger is simple to use, with users being alerted by a new message and frequently chatted contacts move to the top of the list. Users can also view details of their online contacts like email addresses, nickname and status. There is also a chat history.
Next in the series: The IM I really use!