Whoa there cowboy: Asia’s IM apps aren’t taking over the world

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WeChat social media

We’ve seen Asian messaging apps rocket to acquiring over half a billion collective users in the past couple of years, with most of them — like Line, WeChat, and KakaoTalk — keen to expand globally. But interesting new data from Onavo provides a useful reality check.

As seen in the table below (hat-tip to TheNextWeb’s Jon Russell for spotting it), Onavo’s figures show that Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger have much greater global reach, with the Asia-made messaging apps only really dominating their home countries.

Global mobile messaging reach

One important caveat is that this covers iPhone data only. Nonetheless, it shows that WeChat’s 70-million overseas users, and the approximate 75% of Line’s users outside of Japan are not sufficient to make those the leading apps in any country outside their home base. Line’s 44% reach among active iPhone users in Spain is fairly impressive, as is WeChat’s 53% reach in Hong Kong, but both are bested in those two markets by WhatsApp.

Nonetheless, US-based WhatsApp must be somewhat worried, having copied its Asia-made rivals today by adding push-to-talk voice messaging.


This article by Steven Millward originally appeared on Tech in Asia, a Burn Media publishing partner.

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