SAN FRANCISCO The crowded, fragmented mobile messaging app market, one of the hottest sectors in Silicon Valley, just got more crowded.
Keith Teare, a veteran Valley entrepreneur, on Wednesday launched just.me, a service that claims to combine email, multimedia messaging and cloud storage in a single iPhone app.
The startup, backed by Google Inc's venture arm and True Ventures, is the latest entrant among a wave of applications, including Whatsapp, Kik, and Tencent Holdings Ltd's Wechat, that is viewed by industry insiders as having the potential to undermine Facebook Inc's position in the social Internet arena and rise to become the next dominant Internet company.
In recent months, both Facebook and Google have sought to acquire Whatsapp with offers of more than $1 billion, according to unconfirmed reports on tech blogs.
Teare, the founding chief executive of the tech blog Techcrunch, acknowledged that his company is facing deeply entrenched competitors who have amassed millions of users before the launch of just.me. But he argued his app, which is integrated with the iPhone's address book, could prevail because its users are able to send messages to recipients who do not have just.me, whereas rivals like Whatsapp require both parties to be customers.
To differentiate itself, just.me will offer users a "private cloud" where they can store their multimedia content. The service will also allow users to broadcast their messages to the public like they would with Twitter or send private messages that resemble SMS texts.
The service launched Wednesday in 155 countries in Apple Inc's App Store.
(Reporting By Gerry Shih; Editing by Matt Driskill)