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Samsung disputes reports it's shutting down failed WhatsApp competitor

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ChatOn is apparently not seen as 'a business that can show improvement in the future'

Shaken up by a recent downturn in phone sales and profitability, Samsung is now reassessing all aspects of its operations and "streamlining its business units." That's turning out to be bad news for the company's cross-platform messaging app ChatOn, which, it has been determined, "isn't a business that can show improvement in the future." Multiple Samsung officials are cited by The Korea Times in a report that says ChatOn will be gradually phased out on a region-by-region basis as Samsung looks to cut its losses and focus on more profitable ventures. The official line from Samsung itself, however, is that such reports are false and ChatOn will continue to be offered worldwide — though the company declines to specify for how long or whether development of the software will continue.

ChatOn is joining Samsung's range of media consumption hubs that were shut down this summer after failing to make a dent in the lead of more established content distributors like Amazon, Apple, and Google. The vision for ChatOn was to function as an open and universal chat client. Since it came preloaded on all of Samsung's Galaxy devices, it had a large footprint for distribution right from the start, but it never really took off in the fashion that WhatsApp or China's WeChat have.

The abandoned Music and Video hubs are now being replaced by Samsung's Milk Music streaming service and Milk Video app for tracking down viral videos online. It's a new approach to the same areas of high attraction for mobile users. The same will be true with messaging: Samsung can't ignore one of the primary uses of its smartphones, but its next step may be to extend a partnership with an already successful service rather than trying to do it all on its own.

Update 1:36AM, 26 November 2014: Samsung has responded to the Korea Times report, saying that "the recent rumors concerning ChatOn have been false, as ChatOn will continue to be offered to consumers worldwide." This article has been updated to address that statement.