Tango, the multimedia messaging service available for more than 2,000 Android devices, iOS, Windows Phone, and PCs first began as an alternative to Apple’s FaceTime video-chat service.
The company has expanded beyond its initial mission of creating the best mobile video calling solution into a communications powerhouse with the ability to support, voice, video, text, and photo, plus a brand new push-to-talk feature, reminiscent of those old Nextel phones.
Today, Tango has more than 80 million members and is signing new users up at a rapid pace of 200,000 per day.
Tango’s founder and CTO, Eric Setton, has his hand on the pulse of mobile messaging. Setton is the brains behind the popular messaging platform, and he is sees social media services and plain old texting merging together. Setton says his company is well positioned for the time when traditional mobile communication takes a backseat to social communication.
The text message has been around for 20 years now and during that time it hasn’t changed much, if at all. Setton says messaging services like Tango are the new instant message for mobile because there is a whole new generation of apps that are getting incredible traction. Setton thinks that as text messaging volume decreases and 4G and LTE become more persuasive, apps like Tango will depict how we communicate using our smartphones.
The following is a lightly edited conversation we had with Setton about Tango and its future.
Business Insider: Tango just recently added push to talk to its modes of communication. Can you explain what the significance is of Tango offering push to talk?
Eric Setton: People like things to go fast. The way that we integrated push to talk into Tango is completely in line with the messaging platform and it allows users to send quick messages without typing. Even though we’re all used to typing on our smartphones, I think if we can avoid typing people will like that.
Push to talk allows for a very natural interaction, so if you start exchanging messages using push to talk it will automatically play if you are in the conversation. Feedback from the first few days is phenomenal. While we’re not the first ones to have this feature, integrating it into the way we’re offering it just gives choice to the users.
BI: Besides push to talk, what are some of your favourite Tango features?
ES: One of the things that I really love are the Tango surprises, which are video animations you can send across in your messaging and calls. We partnered with premier brands to bring this along, like with Sesame Street we’ve been selling an Elmo pack that allows you to marry rich media content with communication that really clicks. I also love game es. I think it’s so cool to be able to play games and chat at the same time.
BI: Achieving 80 million users isn’t an easy feat. What do you think Tango has that other services don’t that helped you gain so many users?
ES: I think that three things contributed to our success. Two of them are in our control and one we got really lucky with:
- We were very lucky to come out two weeks after the launch of the iPhone 4.
- Putting out products every three weeks like clockwork is really really important. I don’t think that any company can claim that they’re geniuses and know what every customer wants, but if you’re hearing feedback from customers every few weeks you can definitely adjust to get things right.
- Our dedication to the Android platform. Android is where the market is today; it’s certainly the one where we do the best compared to our competitors because our support for Android devices is so vast. We’re put in a place where we can make sure that we support these phones for months and months before other apps are available on a particular device.