You may not be familiar with the name Beluga, but you will be soon. That’s because Facebook just acquired this start-up, which was created by three former Google employees.
Beluga allows users to set up “pods,” or forums that are open to select groups of people. Once you’re part of a pod you can send messages, photos and even announce your locations via Beluga.
Experts are noting that group messaging is likely to be a hot topic at this year’s SXSWi conference, which stands for South By Southwest Interactive. The conference begins next week in Austin, Texas, and is sure to be filled with tons of information on the latest mobile trends.
These predications are garnered by the number of other group chatting platforms that have entered the market recently, including GroupMe and Fast Society. Video group chatting has also become popular as of late. In fact, ElderGadget just announced yesterday that SocialEyes had teamed with Facebook to allow its users to video chat with up to eight others.
Once again, there is a lot of competition in this market from players like Skype, but Facebook integration seems to be the hot ticket as of late. This may be due to convergence and integration. Facebook by its very nature is a social activity, so it makes sense for people to organize their networks around a social platform. Second, if you’re already checking Facebook a few times a day and instant messaging with other users who are also online, then group chatting and video conferencing are the next logical features. Plus, Facebook users can access this platform from their laptops, tablets, smartphones, Smart TVs and even, in some instances, their cars.
Facebook also has about 200 million users, so odds are good that someone who’s open to group messaging probably has an account on this site. The same may not be true for other platforms like Skype or GroupMe. You have to sign up for these services separately, meaning that fewer friends are likely to already be members, and others may be unwilling to take the extra steps to register for these accounts.