Tech In Asia — This post is all about WeChat, but it’s also about more than just WeChat. While seemingly just a messaging app, WeChat is actually more of a portal, a platform, and even a mobile operating system depending on how you look at it. Much has been written about WeChat in the context of messaging app trends, but few outside of China really understand how it works — and how it can pull off what for many companies (and countries) is still a far-off vision of a world managed entirely through our smartphones.
Business Times — SAN FRANCISCO: Canada-based smartphone messaging application Kik said on Tuesday it raised US$50 million from Chinese Internet giant Tencent, saying the two firms have a “shared vision.” The funding vaults the firm launched by University of Waterloo students into the so-called “unicorn” club of startups with valuations over US$1 billion, according to a Kik statement.
Tech in Asia — For his interview today at Rise Conference in Hong Kong, Line CEO Takeshi Idezawa talked via an interpreter, but he used English to ask one critical question to the audience – how many of you are using Line? A sea of hands shot up, a loyal bunch of the firm’s 211 million monthly active users. Idezawa, the newly installed CEO of the Japanese messaging juggernaut, was on stage to highlight his company’s growing reach beyond Asia.
The partial block of the Line and Kakao Talk mobile messengers in China since July 1 of last year is showing signs of extension, while Chinese game studios are taking advantage of the local regulation that forces Korean game developers wishing to do business in China to pass through their studios. According to industry sources, the Chinese government is continuing to block access to global Internet services.
SINGAPORE-based mobile messaging appliance gateway company TalariaX said it has formed a partnership with NTT Advanced Technology Corporation (NTT-AT) to bring its solutions to the Japanese market. Set up in 2001, TalariaX’s flagship is its proprietary sendQuick Short Message Service (SMS) appliance gateway solutions. It claims more than 1,500 applications enterprise customers in over 15 countries. Japan marks its 12th Asian market, the company said in a statement. NTT-AT was established in 1976 as the technological core of Japan’s NTT Group.
Chinese internet giant Tencent’s subsidiary in Taiwan will face screening by the country’s Investment Commission on whether its current operating business meets the range of previous approval, and could be ordered to divest if it violates the rules, our sister paper Want Daily reports. The commission said on June 8 that Tencent’s subsidiary applied as a mainland Chinese investor but the application did not cover its WeChat messaging business. If it is engaged in commercial activities in an area for which it had not applied, it could face a penalty or even required to leave Taiwan.
TENCENT Holdings Ltd said its WeChat messaging app has reached 549 million monthly active users globally, up from the 500-million user milestone achieved three months ago in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2014. In Malaysia, it claims a 95% smartphone penetration rate. Citing research released by GlobalWebIndex (GWI), it said the active user base in Malaysia has grown by 1,187% from Q1 2013 to Q3 2014.
Messaging app company Line Corporation, backed by entertainment firm RS Plc, has announced the launch of Line music streaming service in Thailand to cash in on the burgeoning online music market in the smartphone era. The development is part of Line’s strategy to expand from being a top messaging app into an entertainment and services platform.
Line Corporation, the company behind Japan’s blockbuster messaging app Line, today announced its earnings report for the first quarter of 2015. Total revenue for January-March was JPY 28.1 billion (US$236 million), a 70 percent increase from the same quarter last year and a 9 percent uptick quarter-on-quarter. The Line app itself accounted for JPY 25.4 billion (US$214 million) of that figure, representing a 76 percent increase over the same quarter in 2014 and a 9 percent bump from last quarter.
Today, Japan’s Line messaging app announced via the company’s website that it will support the Apple Watch. Users of the Line smartphone app will be able to link the app with their Watch to view and send messages on their wrist. And – of course – you don’t have to reply with your voice, as the Line Watch app will also support messaging with stickers and emoji.
Singtel, Singapore’s largest telco, has launched a Whatsapp competitor called Wavee. The free-to-use app promises high-quality voice and video calls and the ability to send instant messages. It claims to be the first telco in Southeast Asia to launch something like this. The app is available worldwide on the Google Play and Apple App Store. It does not allow advertising. While using Whatsapp can rake up data costs, Singtel will waive all local data charges for people who use Wavee on Singtel’s postpaid and prepaid mobile plans. The offer lasts till July 9, 2015.
The service is available on iOS and Android, and aims to woo users partly through its in-app innovations such as group chat and a range of emojis, or small graphics that can be interspersed in text conversations. “People can send their emotions to other people or to friends with endearing stickers,” said Line Myanmar general manager Dae Yun Hwang. Line is far from the only application taking aim at the local instant messaging business.
A STAGGERING 92% of workers in Malaysia have used at least one tool enabling remote working in the previous month, according to a survey of over 44,000 senior business people across more than 100 countries by global workplace provider Regus. This figure is also significantly higher than the global average of 86%, Regus said in a statement.
Has your back ever felt so bad that you don’t even want to leave the house to get a massage? In China, there’s an app for that. Or at least there will be. Nanapanda, an O2O massage booking service whose app hasn’t actually launched yet, claims it will offer hourlong full-body massages and shorter head and neck massages you can enjoy at home or at the office.
Line and Instagram stand out as two of the hottest social apps in Thailand. Line is the dominant messenging platform in the nation, with over 33 million registered users. Messaging with Line has become so quotidien – one entrepreneur told me about how her mother operates several Line groups for her various circles of friends – that the app has emerged as arguably the most trusted channel of interaction outside a physical encounter.
SINGAPORE: Mobile messaging apps Line and Kakao Talk are busy trying to conquer overseas markets such as Southeast Asia and India. But they may do well to keep a close eye on their home turf of Japan and South Korea as China’s WeChat amasses more users. Among six messaging apps, WeChat saw the biggest upptick in usage in Japan and South Korea last month versus a year earlier, boosted by its gaming, e-commerce and multimedia capabilities, according to data on Android smartphones tracked by Mobidia.
Samsung Electronics has released a messaging app which runs on Apple’s iOS mobile platform, the company said Sunday. Samsung developed the intra-group messaging app, Square, after it shut down its ChatON service, everywhere apart from the United States, last month. It unveiled the iOS version for its employees using iPhones. “Our employees using iPhones will be able to use our new messaging app Square. We don’t force our workers to use Samsung devices and we respect our employees’ device selection,” a company official said.
The number of users Line, the Naver’s mobile messenger app, is expected to exceed 700 million this year, according to officials and analysts Sunday. Naver saw the number of users cross 600 million recently. “The number of users continues to grow and we see the number exceeding 10 million in 13 countries, including Turkey,” said Hwang In-joon, chief financial official (CFO) at Naver, during a recent conference call with investors.
WeChat, the mobile messaging juggernaut from China, unleashed the Windows PC version of its app (h/t QQ Tech). This comes nearly a year after the Mac client was released last February. Just like the Mac version, WeChat for Windows is fairly barebones. You won’t find the treasure trove of features and functions available on the mobile version, just basic messaging and file transfers.
A few weeks after the acquisition of US-based voice-calling company Zip Phone, India’s Hike today announced its free voice calling feature that works over 2G, 3G, or wifi. Hike’s voice calling is now in beta on the Android version of the app; it’ll arrive on iOS and Windows phones by the end of this quarter. With the slow mobile internet in India and a small percentage of mobile users accessing 3G and 4G, Hike aims to please the mass market with the app’s low bandwidth consumption.