Zlango dashboard and texting screen

Zlango dashboard (left) and texting screen (right)

The “Real Time Web” has been THE trendy topic of the past two years among the emerging technology aficionados, recently shifting to the obscure “SoLoMo” acronym (aka Social Location Mobile), thanks to the rise of Google Android, Skype mobile, Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare.

Instant Messaging is an “old” technology (going back to the sixties in its archaic form), that became popular in the nineties as a consequence of the emergence of the Internet, with pioneers such as PowWow, ICQ, and AOL Instant Messenger. It is interesting to notice that we have seen the web moguls entering in an instant messaging frenzy lately, with Microsoft buying Skype for $8.5 billion and Facebook acquiring leading mobile messaging service Beluga.

So, what is the big deal with instant messaging now?

The short answer is: the mainstream use of mobile as the primary personal computing device on a global scale – with close to half a billion mobile communication devices (428 million) sold worldwide in the first quarter of 2011 (19% increase year-on-year), according to Gartner.
There are over 5 billion mobile devices in use in the world while our planet population is currently estimated at 6,85 billion… and over 7 trillion messages have been sent worldwide in 2011  (emails, MMS and IM combined), including 70% of SMSs (!), according to a study quoted by Roni Haim, Zlango CEO, during our meeting.

Zlango is an innovative mobile messaging service that provides an expressive icon for each word you type, including slang and abbreviations. The regular service is free and you can buy premium content coming in the form of new icons packages.

The service first launched in Asia where mobile gaming, visual virtual goods, and the extensive use of emoticons in messaging were highly popular long before they came to our shores.

Zlango has been localized in 25 languages, meaning the Zlango pictorial vocabulary (aka icons) has been customized for each different culture. To date, the service has delivered over 8 billion icons globally across multiple platforms (Android, Nokia Symbian, J2ME, Web, ICQ integration) and on over 500 supported types of mobile phones. Wow! We could labeled it as “the modern labors of Hercules”…

Today, Zlango , is launching its first messaging application on Android for the US market, with the ambitious goal of replacing words with sequential animated expressions to visually enhance the messaging experience with personality, attitude and personalization.”

Zlango Gorgeous theme (left) and Hip Hop Skin (right)

Zlango Gorgeous theme (left) and Hip Hop Skin (right)

In the United States, users can choose their icons from 3 different themes “Urban,” “Gorgeous” and “Classic,”  (see image) according to their taste, mood or social preferences. For example, the Gorgeous theme is supposed to be tailored for girls, I personally find that a few icons in this set are too stereotyped in a negative way, but you have to see for yourself. Note that you also have the option to turn off the icons and send regular text messages.

However, when it comes to gaming and visual interface, stereotypes can be very useful: it allows users to immediately understand the meaning of a small image and figure out what to do instantly, without the need of a long explanation. Additionally, Roni Haim told me that the Zlango team is very open to suggestions and user feedback.

Overall, I like the idea and the variety of design styles offered to personalize your mobile chat conversations, the service may be highly attractive to the teen audience. And if you are a fan of zombies, Zlango closed a deal to create icons based on the popular American comic book “The Walking Dead”.

In conclusion, we could invent a new trendy and obscure word specifically tailored to the Silicon Valley tribe: SoLoMoPoGlo (Social Location Mobile Personalization Global)… and I bet that the folks at Zlango would be very happy to create the icon for it J

What do you think about Zlango?

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