Myanmar is a country that is still off the map for most investors and startups. It’s considered to be years behind Cambodia, which is in turn, years behind Vietnam, which is behind Thailand. And everyone is behind Indonesia in interest level. The numbers in Myanmar reveal the reason. In a population of 60 million people, below five million are online.
The younger generation in Singapore and other Asia Pacific countries are adopting WeChat, a mobile social communication application for smartphones, in droves. According to GlobalWebIndex (GWI), a market research company specialising in online consumer behaviour, WeChat’s active user base has increased over 55% from Q2 2013 to Q2 2014 globally, with Singapore’s growth attributed at 60%.
The BBC has just started using the popular messaging app Line to share news. The British broadcaster now has an official account on Line in 11 countries – the US, Australia, Spain, Germany, Italy, India, France, the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong. With this, the BBC is sharing a mix of headlined images and very short video clips overlaid with captions to its followers. It looks like this:
NEW DELHI: Targetting youth under 25, instant messaging application hike messenger is aiming to reach 100 million customers by the end of next year. “We have reached a user base of 35 million in August, with 15 million additions in just two months, and are targetting to reach 100 million in the next 12-18 months,” Hike Founder and CEO Kavin Bharti Mittal told PTI.
The strength of China’s web giants and the diversity of its startups usually means that no one service dominates to the extent that, say, Google or Facebook does in other nations. But that hasn’t been true of messaging apps. To chat with a buddy in China, you use WeChat. There are other apps, but WeChat is the only real show in town, with well over 430 million active users to prove it. But that’s not stopping local startups from making new messaging apps. One of the newest and definitely the coolest of these is CatchChat . It’s based around selfies – or any kind of photo and video you want to share – with the option of overlaying some text.
SINGAPORE: United States company Fragmented Industry Exchange (FIE) will be buying Singapore eDevelopment’s (SeD) subsidiary, HotApps International, for US$700 million (S$876 million). In a press release on Thursday (Sep 4), the Singapore Exchange (SGX) Catalist-listed SeD said FIE will acquire HotApps for 1 million new shares at US$10 each and US$690 million worth of zero-coupon perpetual bonds – for a total of US$700 million. Once the deal is completed, FIE will hold HotApps – an instant messaging software developer – as a wholly owned subsidiary, it said.
Line, the messaging app that has nabbed 490 million registered users in three years, announced its plans for becoming a major player in the ecommerce industry at a news conference in Tokyo today. The strategy marks an interesting inflection point for Line. The service gained popularity for it’s colorful stickers, grew its revenue base with mobile games , and now has its sights set on ecommerce.
Free messaging app Hike, the Indian answer to WhatsApp, Line, and WeChat, has just raised its largest round of funding: US$65 million led by Tiger Global Management. Bharti SoftBank (BSB), a joint venture of Bharti Enterprises and Japan’s Softbank Corporation, also participated in the latest round. Earlier, Hike had raised US$7 million in 2013, and another US$14 million in April 2014 from BSB.
NEW DELHI: About a decade and half after Sunil Mittal’s Bharti Airtel raised $60 million from Warburg Pincus, Hike, the instant messenger app company founded by his son Kavin, has raised $65 million from foreign investors led by New York-based Tiger Global. “I raised my first $60 million at age 42, Kavin has done it at 26. Sign of a changing India. A youthful and tech savvy India. A big congratulations to Kavin and his stellar team at Hike,” Sunil Mittal told ET.
Line’s DIY sticker shop is proving to be a respectable hit. The company behind the popular messaging app is reporting that user-created stickers hit JPY 1.23 billion (just under US$12 million) in sales for the three-and-a-half month period ending August 7. While that is still a small fraction of LINE’s overall revenues – US$177 million from April to June 2014 – it still shows remarkable growth.
Chinese web giant Tencent (HKG:0700) has just released its Q2 earnings report. We’ll look at the financials later, but first the number that we all want to see – Tencent’s messaging app, WeChat, is now at 438.2 million monthly active users (MAUs). Social gaming tied to WeChat and QQ (Tencent’s old MSN-style instant messaging service) generated RMB 3 billion (US$487.4 million) in revenue in Q2. That newest WeChat MAU figure is up from 396 million in Q1; it’s risen from 236 million at the same period last year. Here’s a chart of every MAU figure for WeChat that the company has ever released:
China is tightening control over mobile messaging services with new rules that limit their role in spreading news. The regulations will affect WeChat, a messaging service with close to 400 million active users that is one of China’s most popular apps. The rules specifically target so-called “public accounts” that users such as scholars, celebrities, and businesses can set up to reach a wide audience. Under the new regulations, only news agencies and other groups with official approval can publish whatever the government considers political news via public accounts. “All other public accounts that have not been approved cannot release or reprint political news,” the regulations said.
BEIJING: China is banning users of Internet messaging services from posting political reports without permission, and demanding they promise to “uphold the socialist system”, state media said on Thursday (Aug 7). China tightly controls the Internet, but its online population of 632 million has used messaging applications to push the boundaries of the ruling Communist party’s restrictions on free speech.
TOKYO, Aug 3 — A messaging app launched in the aftermath of Japan’s 2011 earthquake and tsunami, Line is moving towards a possible dual listing in Tokyo and New York as it jostles for space in an increasingly crowded and imaginative market. Combining instant messaging with shopping, gaming and other features such as letting users send each other cute cartoon “stickers”, Line is hugely popular in Japan, particularly among teenagers.
Line users who obsessively update the app noticed a new treat today – a Snapchat-like function called hidden chat. Hidden chat can be chosen from the same drop down menu as video chat or phone call. Currently only available for one-on-one chats, the feature allows users to engage in a private conversation that will be deleted. Each message will be visible for up to one minute and the exact time is adjustable by the user. Text, stickers, and photos are all covered. Video files, however, cannot be sent via hidden chat.
Free messaging app Hike, the Indian answer to WhatsApp, Line, and WeChat, has reached the number one spot on the Google Play Store in India, toppling WhatsApp and Facebook. It had also grabbed the top spot on the iOS App Store last week, and is now number three on Windows Marketplace as well. “Again, ahead of WhatsApp,” points out Kavin Bharti Mittal, who directs strategy at Hike.
WeChat is pretty much ubiquitous in China these days, and the rise of the popular messaging app is seen in the huge impact it’s had on how people use SMS. Or, rather, how people have largely stopped using SMS. New figures from China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) show that people in China send an average of 39.8 text messages per month – which is barely more than one per day (well, 1.3 to be precise).
TOKYO: In the three years since it launched its free messaging app, Japan-based Line has attracted more than 430 million users in 230 countries. As the user-base expands, revenue is also skyrocketing. In the first quarter of 2014, revenue was 223 per cent higher than a year earlier at US$144 million. In an interview with Channel NewsAsia correspondent Mike Firn, the chief operating officer of Line Corp, Takeshi Idezawa, talked about how Line plans to keep on growing and attracting more users.
Japan’s powerhouse messaging app Line announced last February that it would begin accepting applications for sticker sets made by ordinary folks (or more likely, independent designers), to whom the company would share 50 percent of the sales revenues with. Late last week, while Tech in Asia was in the thick of Startup Asia Singapore 2014, the app’s “Creators Market” officially opened for business.
That’s how China’s state-run CCTV described WeChat’s public accounts in a recent episode of its Domestic Focus program. Weixin’s growing number of public accounts have become a popular means for China’s bloggers, brands, and media to engage audiences through the country’s most popular chat app. In March, WeChat clamped down on political content, banning several outspoken bloggers. But the CCTV program alleges WeChat hasn’t done enough to clean up the “huge amount” of misinformation and false advertisements, according to TechWeb.