RealTime IT News

StarMedia Unveils Spanish Instant Messaging

Latin American portal StarMedia Network Inc. said Monday it will launch StarMedia Express, the first Spanish instant messaging service on the Internet.

Communications provider PeopleLink Inc. helped co-develop StarMedia Express, which the company describes as a hybrid of chat and e-mail. PeopleLink's Community Directory and interest-based groups, dubbed "iGroups" will enable StarMedia Express users to locate and chat with each other.

The customized instant messaging service supports foreign characters and provides documentation and Web-based help and tools pages in Spanish and Portuguese.

StarMedia Express will notify users when other users are online and through instant messaging, users can talk to one or more users at the same time from any location on the Web. StarMedia Express is available for free download and installation on PCs.

Last week America Online announced a $100 million initiative to enter the Latin American market with partner Cisneros Group. AOL also provides IM or instant messaging through its June acquisition of Israeli-based Mirabilis Ltd., developers of ICQ.

"At StarMedia, we've worked hard to create an environment where the Spanish and Portuguese speaking online community truly feels at home," said Fernando Espuelas, chairman and chief executive officer of StarMedia.

"Naturally, our users are most comfortable communicating one-to-one in their native languages -- the same way they talk face to face. PeopleLink was a perfect choice for us because not only is its software technologically the most innovative, but it's also the kind of high-quality, user-friendly product that will help foster the kind of community we want StarMedia to be," Espuelas said.

"We're excited to see our instant messaging technology extend its reach to Latin America and the U.S. Hispanic market," said Steve Glenn, founder and chief executive officer of PeopleLink, Inc.

"With the Latin American Internet community expected to grow close to four fold by the end of this century, we are pleased to be partnering with StarMedia, the top online network in the region."