BlackBerry Messenger has quickly become the go-to service for many South Africans, usurping text message services as the preferred method of communication.
It's not hard to see why either, as the service routes encrypted messages via the internet to save cash. The ability to send multimedia files and the PIN-based nature of the platform are also a few more marks in its favour.
However, there are quite a few instant-messaging (IM) platforms around that do a great job too, so we took a look at some of them.
Mxit (Java, Android, iOS, Symbian, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, PC, Linux, Mac)
Unarguably South Africa's most popular instant messaging service, Mxit has gone from strength to strength. From its beginnings as a simple IM platform, the service has expanded to include its own currency, chatrooms, virtual items and music store.
Mxit boasts plenty of neat features, such as integration with other IM platforms, Facebook support and group chats. It does not support push notifications on all handsets however.
WhatsApp (BlackBerry, Android, Symbian, iOS)
One of the more well-known IM platforms out there, WhatsApp has gained plenty of traction for its ease of use (using a cellphone number) and cross-platform support.
WhatsApp also differs from other services by having a yearly subscription fee for most platforms (the iPhone version is a paid app however).
Kik Messenger (Android, iOS, WP7)
Kik Messenger has seen an explosion in popularity since its launch in October last year, reaching one million user registrations in 15 days.
The service has been praised for its speed, with emphasis on the "instant" part of "instant messaging". However, Research in Motion pulled Kik from the BlackBerry App World, reportedly due to the fact that the app automatically adds your phone contacts.
Cnectd (iOS, BlackBerry, Android, Symbian)
Cnectd is another neat-looking entry into the world of mobile IM programs, being the brainchild of a South African group as well.
The application includes push notification support on iPhone and BlackBerry handsets, while also allowing you to share your location with contacts.
PingChat (iPhone, Android, BlackBerry)
While it has no relation to Apple's lacklustre music network, PingChat is pretty nifty anyway, with support for multimedia files and group chat.
Much like BBM and WhatsApp, the program also relies on push notifications, negating the need for signing in and out.