As smartphones become more popular among college-aged students, the differences among them widen. One student entrepreneur, however, thought of a program to reconcile messaging differences between popular cell phones.
“I’ve been going through BlackBerry and iPhones for a very long time,” freshman Tyler McIntyre said. “I found that one of the major problems between switching over from BlackBerry to iPhone is the inability to communicate with each other through a platform like BlackBerry Messenger (BBM).”
Arguably the most popular application on BlackBerry devices, BBM allows users to limitlessly message each other without being charged a text message fee by the telephone service provider. Though similar to other popular messengers such as America Online Instant Messenger (AIM) and Yahoo Messenger, BBM was specifically created for BlackBerry users.
McIntyre’s LuciD Messenger (LM) will allow users of iPhones, BlackBerrys and Android-based phones to communicate with each other through a similar messenger-style application. It was also developed to address many of the grievances critics had about previous messaging programs.
For example, when a user is invited by another to become a contact, the software will automatically update both users’ contact list, unlike AIM where both users must manually add each other. According to McIntyre, small details will distinguish his program from others currently on the market.
Users will be able to quickly search for friends using either their LM username, their actual name, phone number or e-mail address.
“When you find someone you’re looking for it comes up like a list, almost like Facebook,” McIntyre said. “We tried making it as easy as possible to find your friends on the messenger.”
Although LM has already been approved for use by the BlackBerry and Android application stores, the iPhone’s App Store has yet to accept the application. McIntyre, however, is confident that the App Store will approve LM.
“What I created was like a network in itself that you can download from your applications store,” he said. “Everyone can download it and can send messages back and forth. You can have chat conversations with multiple people, send pictures between each other and even send smiley-faces.”
After working with a team of about nine different India-based computer savvy developers, McIntyre’s LM quickly passed the software’s beta stage. It is now fully operational, and will be released when approved by Apple.
“We followed all the regulations and the standards they require, so we’re just waiting to get approved with them,” he said.
After first creating a prototype of the messenger application, McIntyre approached the Toppell Career Center’s LaunchPad entrepreneurship office with the idea.
“He was one of the more advanced freshmen that we’ve taken through our program,” said Lucas Sommer, a program manager at the LaunchPad. “His plan was well thought-out and in place. I was very impressed by Tyler even the first time we met.”
The LaunchPad was able to help McIntyre with marketing strategies, such as promoting the application through social media websites like Facebook. He now hopes to promote his messenger to businesses with cell phone plans for employees. Now, instead of providing only BlackBerrys because of their compatibility with BBM, companies would be able to provide a wider variety of smartphones and still use a free messenger program.
He is commonly asked by the business and technology media whether he believes his messenger may replace other popular smartphone messengers like BBM. However, he remains pragmatic in his approach.
“I don’t really think that might happen anytime soon just because BBM is automatically installed on every single BlackBerry device,” he said. “However, I hope to incorporate all smartphones into this messaging system so that it becomes the leader in messaging.”
Online technology forums are already buzzing with rumors about LM. When his idea was first presented to his peers, McIntyre was met with a variety of responses; from complete awe, to bitter skepticism.
“The most common response that I get from people checking out my program on Web sites is ‘Wow, I can’t believe no one’s ever thought of this,’” he said. “But still, a lot of people said it couldn’t be done.”
Users can sign up for more information by visiting www.lucidmessenger.com.
Ramon Galiana may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.