Jongla CEO: ‘We’re bridging the gap between social networks and messaging apps’

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Earlier this year, we featured a post by Jongla CEO Riku Salminen (it’s here if you want a reminder). 6 months on, we asked him how things were going and were interested to receive this update.

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Well, it’s been a busy 6 months to say the least.

Life as a startup means things are always changing and the challenges keep coming. This last period for Jongla has been a significant one. Our entire approach to mobile messaging has changed – for the better.

In early June we announced the launch of Jongla Social Messenger, our most significant upgrade yet. With social features added like the ability to discover new and interesting people around you, the new Jongla has been designed to bridge the gap between social networks and messaging.

The lines are blurring

So, why the change?

You need to look at the facts. Messaging apps have become the dominant platform on smartphones, surpassing social networks in terms of user numbers worldwide. The trend of today shows that people, especially in emerging markets, are replacing their social networking apps usage with instant messengers.

We’ve been in this market now for over five years. We’ve seen it explode, change direction and then back again. The lines between social networking and messaging apps usage are blurring. In fact, we firmly believe that soon the two will meet – just look at the recent growth of chatbots.

Our experience and knowledge of the mobile messaging market means we’re ahead of the curve. By adding new meaningful social layers to our instant messaging service, we’re enabling our users to enjoy the best of them both and have the convenience of not having to flick between apps. It’s the way messaging should be.

Broaden your network

For me, the most significant new features that we’ve added is our new ‘People’ tool and reactions that can be shared. The ‘People’ feature allows Jongla users to discover and interact with new people based on their location. Whilst it’s an optional feature and fully secure, it offers our users the opportunity to broaden their network of friends with one tap. We feel this is very powerful.

We’ve also added the ability to engage with user profiles through a choice of reaction. Reactions can be exchanged between people in Jongla’s community to express emotions from a simple thumbs-up, smile or even a virtual flirtation with a heart. Our users love this feature and we’re already seeing some really interesting trends. For example, people in Sweden are more loving than Finnish people, who tend to share thumb-ups – it’s very cool.  

Connecting Africa

Aside from Social Messenger, the team and me have been working incredibly hard on the launch of Jongla in Africa. Like the success we’re experiencing in Asia, Jongla is hitting the sweet spot for Africans by allowing them to connect with the people closest to them, regardless of whether they have a smartphone or live in an area where mobile connectivity is poor.

Jongla enables users to send and receive unlimited free text messages, stickers, photos, videos and funny voice messages over the Internet using low-speed Wi-Fi networks as well as 4G, 3G, EDGE and GPRS. It opens up the world of free instant messaging to people living and working in Africa, where cellular and data services are often unreliable and expensive. The Jongla app has been specifically designed for emerging markets, because it takes only 3.5MB to download on Android phones compared to more than 20MB for most other messaging apps.

Within the next two years, a whole new generation of mobile natives – roughly a billion people – will access the mobile Internet, mostly via low-end smartphones with prepaid plans. Emerging markets, the driver of this growth, still suffer from low connectivity and the high cost of data. Our optimised messaging app is the lightest available in Africa – we’re very proud of this fact. By downloading Jongla, people in Africa can enjoy social messaging, and save data and money.

Launched in April, the response so far has been overwhelming. The feedback from users has been extremely positive and daily app usage increase by 35% month on month. Our light and optimised app is something emerging markets like Africa have been seeking – and we’ve delivered this.

Full steam ahead

 When we first founded Jongla back in 2009, our aim was to develop a cross-platform application that will offer free messaging and give people better tools to express themselves beyond just text. I believe with Social Messenger we’ve taken our service to the next level in terms of offering a valuable service to our users.

We’re also making the capabilities that we often take for granted – messaging with our family and friends whenever we want – possible for less developed markets across the globe. This can change people’s lives.

The last 6 months has seen a significant shift in focus for Jongla and it’s one my team has embraced. The success so far doesn’t mean we down tools now. Our ambition is still connect the next generation of mobile natives – full steam ahead.

Our thanks to Riku for this contribution.  For more info on Jongla visit www.jongla.com or you can connect with Riku on LinkedIn here.

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