Financial Mail has a great article (or series of articles) on a homegrown company and service called Mxit which takes advantage of the data services available on today’s mobile networks to provide a messaging and chat service for the fraction of the cost of sms.
The way it works is you download an application to your mobile phone, install it, create an account with Mxit and start chatting. The nice thing about this service is that it allows you to connect, not only with other Mxit users in chatrooms or via a form of instant message but also to existing instant messaging services like MSN’s Messenger, Yahoo, Google Talk (the preferred gateway) and other Jabber clients.
If you want to chat to someone across the Mxit network, both people must be using Mxit although if you connect to an IM gateway, the other person will use whatever they are using (Google Talk etc).
To use some of these services you need to buy Mxit Moola. 1 Moola works out to 1c or so and you load up this Moola through value-added sms’s. About 200 Moola can buy you 100 messages (that will cost you R2). I am still working out how to join the chatrooms but the ability to interface with my Google Talk account and chat on the move is already a huge benefit.
This technology is another step towards ubiquitous connectivity – being connected everywhere and anywhere using whatever device you have on hand.