Users of Apple Inc.’s iPhone, clearly a contender for the ‘most coveted product of the year’ award for its design, will soon have an Indian connection. A Mumbai company, Geodesic Information Systems Ltd, has tweaked its instant messenger application-branded Mundu—to allow it to be downloaded and used on the iPhone, which runs on a high-speed data network of AT&T Inc.
The iPhone, a $500 (Rs20,100) phone that has wowed North America, does not come with a pre-loaded instant messenger and customers have until now had to download third party instant messaging applications such as FlickIM from internet start-up Next3, Trillian, created by Cerulean Studios, or Meebo, among a handful of others. Some of these were still in ‘alpha’ stages, the first phase of testing, or could be used to chat only on single clients such as AOL’s instant messenger (AIM) platform.
The Mundu iPhone application can be operated across multiple chat clients such as GoogleTalk, Yahoo, MSN and AIM. “We have been offering the Mundu IM application to Palm and Windows Mobile users till now. The Mundu instant messaging iPhone edition has been designed by half-a-dozen engineers out of our Bangalore and Mumbai research centres,” said Anand Virani, associate vice-president at Geodesic, adding his firm’s messaging application will be compatible with the Safari browser used on the iPhone.
Zoho, a Chennai division of the California-headed Adventnet Inc., has developed a Office-like suite of applications for the iPhone earlier, but the credit and business rests with the US parent.
Apple has sold over 400,000 iPhones so far in North America, with sales showing no signs of slowing down. “We are targeting 15-20% of the total base” for Mundu installations, Virani said. A Singapore-based spokesperson for Apple declined comment.
“The beauty of our interoperable product is that no installation is involved and users can chat across all popular chat browsers at no cost,” said Virani. He added that as services such as Yahoo and Google are popular in India, this initiative will provide Geodesic an edge when the phone makes an Indian entry in the middle of 2008. Geodesic plans to talk with potential local distributors in India when the iPhone is launched here.
“We are not planning to make it a paid product as yet and will look at how adoption goes,” Virani said. However, once the service goes paid, it could be priced higher than the current pricing plans for desktop computer and mobile phone versions of Mundu, he said. Mundu, which has over 200,000 users worldwide, is priced at a one-time charge of $11. The Mundu IM offers various features such as conference across multiple services, photo sharing across all chat platforms and receiving e-mail notification. The Apple iPhone version will be basic when it launches this week, with features being added later.
Geodesic, an information products company that reported Rs177 crore revenues in fiscal 2007, is also in the process of finalizing plans to launch the Mundu instant messaging product for Nokia and Sony Ericsson phones.