How serious is the challenge
from mobile apps?
LINE, a mobile messaging app from
Japan, surpassed 200 million subscribers recently thanks to costly
advertising campaigns in Japan,
Spain and India. That puts it on track
to catch up to WeChat, owned by Chinese company Tencent, which crossed
the 300 million mark in January. In
comparison, Twitter—the third-larg-est social network—has about 297
million active users.
Mobile app users send a lot of messages. One study found that OTT
users sent 32.6 messages per day,
while person-to-person (P2P) SMS
users sent only about five. These apps
look and act more like social networks
than mobile text messaging services,
accounting for the increased use.
Why the change?
A number of forces are combining to
drive the adoption of mobile messag-
ing apps. According to a May report
from the Pew Internet & American
Life Project, 94 percent of teen social
media users have a Facebook profile,
and 84 percent of them use Face-
book often. However, focus groups
with teens paint a different picture.
The majority of participants “asso-
ciated (Facebook) with constraints
through an increasing adult presence,
high-pressure or otherwise negative
social interactions (‘dram’), or feeling
overwhelmed by others who share too
much,” according to Pew.
When Piper Jaffray surveyed teens,
the company found that 10 percent
fewer named Facebook their most
important site than a year ago. When
asked what kinds of networks did
excite them, messaging services like
Snapchat and Kik ranked high, along
with the 6-second video service Vine.
While there is data to suggest some
of these teens are turning to Twitter as
an alternative, outside North America the adoption of messaging apps
is the dominant trend. Speaking at
TechCrunch Disrupt, Sequoia Capital
partner Aaref Hilaly put his finger on
the appeal of messaging apps. “What’s
your real social graph?” Hilaly asked.
see for yourself
This demo of mobile messaging app Kakao Talk highlights key features like
group chats, free calls and emoticons.
rejected the idea of