Yesterday we saw DeNA launch a chat app named Comm. While Rick pointed out that DeNA describes itself as an internet company, it is essentially a gaming company. It makes more than 90 percent of its revenue through games. And according to someone close to DeNA, the Japanese gaming company isn’t one that is looking to diversify much for now.
Maybe that is changing, but I believe that DeNA is looking for an alternative way to capture smartphone users, as the company indicated to us today. Texting over data is a basic function for smartphone users, and there are bazillions of options to choose from. But DeNA reckoned that it is worth a try anyway.
As people use the app more frequently, it becomes a habit and will eventually become a norm, just like how we head to Google and Facebook when we’re on a PC. But when we’re on a mobile, these chat apps are probably among the more frequently used apps on your phone. Why? It could be for any number of reasons. But for me, it’s because I want to save on text messages and be accessible on a consistent channel even when I’m overseas.
So the game plan for most companies launching chat apps seems clear to me: Build a huge user base and social graph, open up the platform, create applications/plug-ins, and monetize. So for DeNA, it might just slot in mobile games onto Comm (just like KakaoTalk) since that is its core money machine.
That future has already been highlighted by WeChat, LINE, and KakaoTalk. Though they are focusing on user growth rather than monetization, they’re building out broader mobile platforms. For example, in Korea, the top Android games in the country are increasingly ones that integrate with KakaoTalk’s social gaming features.
But can chat apps really turn into a mobile platform filled with applications? And would people use third party applications within a chat app? My guess is yes, as we increasingly rely more on chat apps for mobile-to-mobile texting and voicing.