Steven Millward
Steven Millward
3:47 pm on Aug 7, 2013
wechat messi billboard

Lionel Messi’s WeChat billboard spotted in Hong Kong. Credit: Engadget’s Richard Lai

We’ve seen Asian messaging apps rocket to acquiring over half a billion collective users in the past couple of years, with most of them – like Line, WeChat, and KakaoTalk – keen to expand globally. But interesting new data from Onavo provides a useful reality check.

As seen in the table below (hat-tip to TheNextWeb’s Jon Russell for spotting it), Onavo’s figures show that Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger have much greater global reach, with the Asia-made messaging apps only really dominating their home countries.

One important caveat is that this covers iPhone data only. Nonetheless, it shows that WeChat’s 70 million overseas users, and the approximate 75 percent of Line’s users outside of Japan [1] are not sufficient to make those the leading apps in any country outside their home base. Line’s 44 percent reach among active iPhone users in Spain is fairly impressive, as is WeChat’s 53 percent reach in Hong Kong, but both are bested in those two markets by WhatsApp.

Asian messaging apps not really global

Nonetheless, US-based WhatsApp must be somewhat worried, having copied its Asia-made rivals today by adding push-to-talk voice messaging.

(Editing by Anh-Minh Do, Enricko Lukman)


  1. WeChat has nearly 400 million registered users in total; Line has over 200 million. But Whatsapp has 300 million active users.  ↩

Replies
  • Michele

    This is bullshit, in the past month I’ve seen with my own eyes Wechat rocketing here in Italy. From kids to adults, you basically can’t find any chinese on the look-around feature.

  • rickety cricket

    from my use of these apps, whatsapp has a lot of catching up to do to get the same functional dynamism of wechat (or line/kakao which i’ve only used sparingly). the asian messenger apps might not have invented the idea, but they’ve made the user experience much more fun and friendly. as an expat in china, i’ve met a lot of newcomers to the region, and there are some basic steps they usually go through over their first few weeks in the country:

    at first, “what’s wechat?” then after seeing the app, “oh, so it’s like whatsapp?”, then after using it for a while “this is great!” and, eventually, “i communicate mostly through wechat and love doing it”

    contrast this to facebook messenger in the US – sure, it’s ubiquitous, but do people actually feel any affection towards it? i hypothesize that the US market is primed for an app like wechat to really take off. maybe whatsapp can get back on the offensive, though just adding push-to-talk a year after it came out on wechat is not going to cut it.

  • http://profiles.google.com/pepoluan Pandu Poluan

    Whatsapp has the benefit of being there first, but as MySpace and Friendster can attest, being there first is not a guarantee of being there for good.

    And focusing only on iPhone? That’s a great blunder… Android’s marketshare is alreadylarger

  • Flo

    This is totally biased since it only gives data for iPhone!!! which is only stated in the fineprint thus pretending to give an overall image!

    since the android user base is a lot bigger there might be a quite different picture …

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