Momo, the popular Chinese flirting app that recently crossed the 100 million download mark, has announced that it will shut down its international, English-language sister app on July 1st.
According to The Next Web, users of the international Momo received a message today informing them that the current app – which is an entirely separate app, sporting a slightly different icon than its Chinese counterpart – will be “discontinued” at the start of next month. However, the company said it is currently developing a “brand new product,” indicating that the startup isn’t giving up on cracking international markets just yet. The full text reads:
Dear user, thank you for staying with Momo. We have made a tough decision to discontinue this version on July 1st, 2014. We want to take the chance to thank you for always being there for us: you have been the driving force behind our mission to change the way people connect. Now we’re working on a brand new product featuring our exciting learnings along the way! It will be ready soon. We’re here to thank you again and answer any questions that you might have. Please do not hesitate to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org
Momo launched its international app in October 2012. At the time, mobile messaging was still hot-and-getting-hotter. Momo claimed to have 10 million users on its domestic Chinese app, 10 percent of whom resided abroad. When our colleague in Singapore took the international version for a test drive, he noted that the app didn’t do much to “internationalize” beyond building out an English-language interface. Since the two apps shared the same database of users, it’s possible that the few people outside of China who did download the international Momo quickly got turned off by the all-too-visible mass of Chinese users.
Following its international launch, Momo evolved to become a respectable supplement to WeChat (or Weixin) in China. As it grew its user base, it began selling stickers, VIP tiers, and games as a means to bring in revenue. But it’s international version never received updates for these in-app purchases, and it currently sports a dated-looking iOS 6 user interface.
Momo is reportedly planning an IPO, which ought to signal that its team will be be active for a while, and might help the company raise enough cash to market abroad more aggressively.
Momo isn’t the only Chinese social app that has struggled to find traction beyond the Middle Kingdom. Tencent’s WeChat has accumulated 100 million registered users outside of China, but given Tencent’s global marketing push and its reluctance to disclose further regional breakdowns, we’re bearish on its prospects for dominating in any of its international markets. Some Chinese apps have crossed the Pacific (or traversed through Central Asia) successfully, however. Goofy photo app MomentCam went viral all over the world, while Chengdu-based Camera 360 claims that half of its 250 million registered users reside outside of China. Perhaps the lesson to be learned is: network effects are hard to duplicate from the top-down, so apps that achieve their utility from said network effects can kill in one market and bomb in another.
We’ve reached out to the Momo team for comments on these developments and will update this piece if we hear back.
(Source: The Next Web)Editing by Steven Millward