Asian social messaging giants move overseas

Neha Dharia/Ovum
25 Sep 2013

Asian messaging players have been slowly but surely growing their presence across the world by rapidly garnering new subscribers in Southeast Asia and Europe. The growth of these players indicates that social messaging is ready to mature into a full-fledged mobile media platform, not just in Asia but across the world.

It is fairly common news that social messaging players have had a profound impact on telco's revenues, suite of messaging services and messaging pricing plans. In fact, social messaging is become the mainstay for text-based communication while SMS is rapidly evolving into a bearer technology for utility services and alerts.

Asian social messaging players differ greatly from other social messaging players. The apps are not just a communication channel but act as an entertainment, commerce and social platform. Japan's Line, China's WeChat and South Korea's KakaoTalk are three players that have been able to introduce a range of new services to a large, loyal subscriber base and successfully change the face of social messaging.

WeChat most recently started payment services that allow users to pay for McDonald's purchases through the app and facilitate the ordering of drinking water through the app. Line and KakaoTalk have pioneered a different type of messaging evolution - they provide platforms for brands to engage with the consumer either through game play or sponsored pages. This allows for a solid monetization strategy and at the same time allows brands to engage with consumers in a non-intrusive way.

A multitude of services can be launched via messaging platforms because social messaging serves as an anchor for other services such as gaming. Social gaming in particular can complement messaging very effectively. KakaoTalk has diversified from mobile messaging to become an operator of a social gaming platform that generated $38 million in October 2012 alone.

Social messaging services' stickiness makes them the ideal portal from which to launch complementary, more monetizable services. The stage is now set for social messaging to grow beyond messaging and develop a wide range of services. This in turn will cause a disruption in not just the messaging landscape but will impact larger OTT players, service providers and telcos as well.

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