PASIG CITY, Philippines -- Almost eight years after it set up shop in the country, wireless applications service provider Chikka Asia is opening up to developers to encourage more innovation in its mobile instant messaging and other related products, its newly appointed CEO said.
Chikka Asia CEO Chito John Bustamante, who is also the concurrent chief operating officer, said Chikka Asia unveiled its developer network program recently prior to the release of its application programming interface (API) to developers.
An API is an interface that will allow a program to communicate with another program.
"Developers are now testing it out," said Bustamante who is taking on the job of former CEO and founder Dennis Mendiola who has decided to put on his "investment banker" hat to focus on the company's stakeholders.
Chikka Asia has developed a mobile instant messaging service, dubbed Chikka Messenger, which allows subscribers to directly send messages to mobile phone subscribers. Text messages are sent through a computer-based software client and to a mobile phone subscriber as a short messaging service (SMS). The receiving mobile phone subscribers can then reply back through SMS for a fee.
Chikka Messenger also integrates instant message functionalities, such as presence detection via SMS, which means users can detect if their buddies are online. Users can also log on using their mobile numbers and send free SMS to buddies.
Already on its fourth version, the Chikka Messenger now supports MMS (multimedia messaging service), and is interoperable with Google Talk. It also allows users to reload call and SMS credits from a PC to mobile subscribers, Bustamante said.
Bustamante said the next version of Chikka is a web-based application that supports various instant messaging services, including Yahoo! Messenger, Google Talk and MSN Messenger. This web-based service is currently in beta.
Amid faster mobile networks where mobile instant messaging services are becoming a commodity, Bustamante said that the mobile instant messaging market is still growing.
"Growth is constant because this is like a social networking service," the executive said, noting that they still see more people registering for the service despite the absence of marketing.
Chikka's move to open up to developers is part of a strategy to allow people to build more applications on top of Chikka's instant messaging platform.
"We're bent on innovating, while we look and listen to the space we're in. But we're also open to ideas in the space that we're not," he said. "We're open to people expressing their ideas through our platform."
Chikka, however, is not opening up its source code. Much of the features that are seen in its mobile instant messaging technology are patented.
"What we're providing are building blocks for the basic web and mobile functionalities of Chikka Messenger," he said.