Chikka, the popular instant messaging application that allows users to send and receive free SMS messages, is shutting down. Chikka announced on its website that users can no longer use its free SMS messaging service after March 31, 2018. The announcement was also posted on its Facebook page. Users trying to access the Chikka website were greeted with the following message:
Hello, mga Ka-Chikka! Salamat sa dalawang dekadang pagtangkilik sa Chikka SMS services! With a sad heart, gusto naming iparating na hanggang March 31, 2018 na lang magagamit ang free text sa website at app. Para sa iba pang concerns, mag-email lang sa [email protected]
Chikka Philippines, Inc. was founded in 2000 by a trio of entrepreneurs: Dennis Mendiola, Chito Bustamante, and Alexandra Roxas. In 2017, Dennis Mendiola was profiled in The Finishers, a book about the most successful tech startups in the Philippines written by Ezra Ferraz. The book documents the founding-to-exit stories of some of our nation’s best tech companies, such as Sulit, Anino Games, HeyKuya, MyProperty.ph, and of course, Chikka. Since exiting Chikka, Dennis Mendiola continues to innovate for the Philippines as a serial tech entrepreneur.
The word “chikka” is derived from the Tagalog “chika,” a colloquial term for “small talk” or “chatter.”
A year earlier, in 1999, the Chikka Text Messenger application was first developed. The service, then available through the website or as a desktop application, combines the features of SMS technology and instant messaging, allowing anyone with an Internet connection to send text messages to any mobile phone.
Chikka was an instant success. With the Philippines becoming the text messaging capital of the world in the early 2000s, the application became popular with SMS users, especially those who ran out of prepaid load. The service was also a big hit with overseas Filipino workers who use the application to send SMS messages to their loved ones in the Philippines.
Aside from the web and desktop applications, Chikka Text Messenger is also available on Google Play and the Apple App Store. The Android app has over 5 million downloads and 60,000 reviews as of this writing.
In 2009, leading telecommunications giant Smart Communications acquired the company. At present, Chikka is available to over 45 mobile carriers in 14 countries including the Philippines, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Japan, United Kingdom, and the United States.
The reason for Chikka’s impending shutdown is unknown as of this writing. Increasing competition from other instant messaging services such as Facebook Messenger, Skype and Viber could have put a dent on its business, as SMS messaging is no longer as commonplace as before.
In this age of free Facebook data and cheap Wi-Fi, companies that rely on SMS messaging for their business are in a precarious position.