mary channel through which people
are connecting via their smartphones,
they’ll want to be able to use these apps
to seek customer service and support.
(If customer support does find its way
into the app ecosystem, companies
will have to learn to be even faster in
responding to inquiries than they are
now with Facebook and Twitter. In
messaging, the expectation of a conversation is pervasive; nobody will want
to check back later to see if a company
representative has responded.)
Which of these apps will wind up
dominating as the new social networking environment is impossible to say
at this point. If your markets include
those where messaging apps already
dominate, now’s the time to consider
a strategy for reaching those customers.
If you’re in the U.S., Canada, the U.K.,
or other places where messaging apps
still aren’t a big deal, familiarize yourself with the concept and brace yourself. They’ll be a big deal before you
who’s who in the world of mobile messaging apps
• WeChat, owned by China’s Tencent, passed 300 million subscribers in
January. It’s the top app in southern Africa, including Zimbabwe, Namibia
and South Africa.
• WhatsApp, based in Mountain View, California, processes 18 billion
messages a day and has been downloaded more than 100 million times for
Android alone. It’s the top messaging app in Spain, where adoption occurs
at a faster pace than elsewhere. WhatsApp is said to be on 95 percent of the
smartphones in Spain.
• LINE, based in Japan, is challenging WhatsApp for dominance in Spain,
where it has 15 million users. It’s also growing in India and other markets.
• KakaoTalk dominates in tech-savvy South Korea, and is also popular in
Malaysia and Indonesia.
• Kik is strong in the U.S., and has been a top-40 app in a number of African
and Caribbean markets.
• Viber is popular in several African countries. It’s the top iPhone messaging
app in Tanzania and Botswana.
• Path was introduced in the U.S. as a place for more intimate social networking with real friends. It gained considerable ground during an aggressive
customer acquisition campaign, but has since fallen out of the list of the
top 500 apps downloaded.
• Pinger, a U.S.-based mobile app, is notable mostly for its revenue (it has an
ad-supported version) and the investment it has received from venture
about the author
Shel Holtz, ABC, IABC
Fellow, is principal of Holtz
Communication + Technology in Concord, California.
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