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Samsung ChatOn will be turned off in February

WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and other instant messaging apps appear to have won the day over Samsung's own-brand effort.


ChatOn? ChatOff, more like -- Samsung is killing its WhatsApp-rivalling instant messaging service.

Samsung told CNET today that ChatOn will be discontinued on 1 February 2015 everywhere except the US. It will then shut down in the US at an unconfirmed date soon after, with the delay due to "existing contractual obligations with US mobile carriers."

Samsung says the decision was made "as we strive to meet evolving consumer needs by focusing on our core services."

For many, instant messaging on mobile phones first came to prominence thanks to BlackBerry Messenger. BlackBerry devices have always been marketed to business types for their security and productivity features, but in past years an unexpected secondary market sprang up: teenagers. BlackBerry's messaging service BBM was a hit with text-happy kids because it was free so they could chat to each other constantly without racking up text fees.

Such was the popularity of BBM among the yoof it was even blamed for the UK's Tottenham riots in 2011.

Crucially though, BBM could only talk to other BlackBerry devices, so as Android devices and the iPhone became more popular, young people turned to messaging apps that could talk to anyone. By the time BBM apps for the iPhone and Android came along last year, many had moved on to cross-platform apps such as WhatsApp, Viber or Kik.

Launched in 2011, ChatOn was Samsung's attempt to replicate the success of BlackBerry Messenger. Available in more than 200 countries, the app reported around this time last year to have 100 million users. But with WhatsApp sending more than 64 billion messages on new year's eve, ChatOn had its work cut out. And as if that's not enough, Facebook muscled in on the IM action by forcing users to download its messaging app to chat with friends, securing more than 500 million users.

Samsung declined to provide up-to-date user numbers.