War of the Packet Messaging Applications :Whatsapp,WeChat & Line

India and the other Asian countries are now in a big race to move from traditional voice based mobility services to data based.So has the shift been made in the messaging applications from the circuit switched SMS to the packet switched messaging applications such as WeChat,Line and Whatsapp also not forgetting the reigning apps like Viber.

Sumit Menaria

Whatsapp has currently 400 million  users ,followed by 350 million on WeChat and 300 million users on Line .While the major base of users for Whatsapp is in US and Europe ,WeChat has major users from China and Line from Japan ,mainly due to the country of development of these applications.

India remains the market to watch for these chat app competition due to the country’s still growing smartphone adoption rates.Indian smartphone shipments tripled annually as of last august ,driven mostly by increased demand for expensive models.   Thus there is a shift in the use of the traditional SMS  to the easy to use packet data applications.

The services offered by these apps distinguish them largely. Whatsapp ,the oldest in the market (since 2009) sticks to its core platform where transfer of text ,audio and video files is supported ,however Line and Wechat support both audio and video chat along with the normal Whatsapp features. WeChat says sending texts is a thing of past and its plethora of offerings in terms of video chat, audio messaging, social, profiles, stickers, emoticons is there next level of getting connected with your friends.However getting used of its interface may take ages for some.

Fair enough every application has equal set of pros and cons ,so the firms now have to lure as many customers as they can.

While Line has roped in brand ambassadors like Parineeti Chopra & Varun Dhawan ,Katrina Kaif has took the stage to promote WeChat.

Huge advertisement costs from the first two have helped them stand in the race with the oldest
Huge advertisement costs from the first two have helped them stand in the race with the oldest

Roping in the India celebrities and with the mass publicity WeChat and line has about 20 and 10 million users in India ,behind the 25  million users of Whatsapp. However the number of active users has not been disclosed by the companies ,which may actually be low.(There is a joke that only two users of WeChat in India are Parineeti & Varun)

Whatapp despite being the Rabbit of the race may loose its position due to its model of charging $.99 every year .It has kept itself away from advertisements and endorsement on its platform and current costs are maintained by keeping very low expenses ,influx of money from Venture capitalists and very less man-power (maximum 50 employees) .India market may soon change its preference ,despite being addicted to this application due to the price factor (through very low) coming in.The tortoises here ,WeChat and Line ,have both the next gen platform as well as revenue through the 3rd party advertisements to flood in users with their own advertisement . Unless WeChat is acquired by some giant line Facebook or Google ,its long future looks hazy.

At last if asked which app I would prefer to use, my answer would be WeChat. If you were to ask which app I use the most, at the moment, that would be Whatsapp largely because my contacts have Whatsapp. If however my contacts were to move across to WeChat, then things might be a bit easier. For now, I’m quite happy to use both because they excel at different applications.


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