OZ Raises $34M, Mobile IM Boom

We wrote about mobile messaging company OZ Communication’s second round of funding in September, but didn’t have a size for the round. Now OZ says the second round is $34 million, led by Canadian institutional fund manager, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, which brings the company’s total to around $61 million. That is considerable funding for a company that sells mobile messaging handset and server software.

The company has a decent business model, though: help carriers provide mobile IM and email to customers. Other mobile messaging companies like Berggi, which we wrote about recently, are trying the direct to consumer approach with a download that bundles IM, email and text. A lot of the newer basic phones we have tested are already including IM clients (with or without OZ), so getting consumers to pay a monthly fee for an extra mobile messaging application like Berggi’s seems like a stretch.

But the amount of subscribers using mobile IM, is going to grow dramatically over the next few years. A report that Forrester emailed us this morning says that IM is the number one “must-have” feature from a list of “advanced cell phone features” for U.S. teenagers when choosing a new cell phone model. The survey included 4,500 teenagers, and the other advanced features were things like camera, mobile Internet, push-to-talk, MP3 playback, mobile email and picture messaging. Makes sense to me, I am fully addicted to Google chat on BlackBerry.