Messaging Apps and the Future of Mobile Communications
This is a guest blog from Ran Avrahamy at Scringo:
Messaging apps are drastically on the rise and this will not only have a snowball effect on the mobile industry as a whole but, also, on what mobile developers will have to offer their users. App developers, and not specifically messaging app developers, need to find creative and innovative ways of adding similar communication features to their apps to stay relevant.
These messaging apps are also known as OTT (over the top) apps due to the fact that customers don’t pay the carriers for the service, unlike SMS or Text Messages. These apps are generally more sophisticated than the standard text message. They offer features such as games, image uploads, voice & video recordings, group chats and stickers, to name a few. All of which are mainly popular among adolescents, who currently hold over 40% of the app download market.
Key players in the messaging apps arena such as WhatsApp, Skype, Viber, WeChat and KakaoTalk are quickly becoming an indispensable form of communication for millions of people around the world. Even Social Networks, like Path, are now focusing and enhancing their chat capabilities. At the moment, the king of messaging apps is widely considered to be WhatsApp, the Sequoia backed company which was founded in 2009. Earlier this year, WhatsApp reported over 18 billion messages a day. Currently, WhatsApp has hundreds of millions of users around the world, with more than 110 million downloads on Google’s Android phone alone. On April 19, 2013, the app ranked as the number one top-selling paid iPhone app in 54 countries, and was in the number two spot in the United States, according to AppAnnie.
In addition to the hundreds of new messaging apps emerging across the globe, Smartphone makers have developed their own trademark, yet not cross-platform, messaging apps – RIM’s BBM, Apple’s iMessage, Samsung’s ChatOn and more…
Massive Trends in Asia
Like with most consumer-related goods, the Asian Market is leading the Messaging App bandwagon. WeChat, from China-based Tencent, isn’t too far behind WhatsApp with 195 million active users on 15 May, according to the company’s quarterly results. In addition, other apps such as KakaoTalk from South Korea, Line from Japan, Taiwan’s Cubie, Zalo from Vietnam and LoveByte from Singapore are also making their appearance in the global messaging app market. And by the looks of things, many will rapidly surpass their North American and European counterparts.
Messages DO Generate Revenues
Like any other business, the goal here is the bottom line. Major market players have come up with creative and unique business models to monetize on messaging apps. The Asian apps, for instance, use mainly in-app games and stickers to generate huge revenues. As reported by Lighthouse Insights, the sale of stickers in Line helped the app make $58 million in the first quarter of 2013 alone. Microsoft-owned Skype base its business model on premium services. And, last but certainly not least, WhatsApp just went freemium on iOS – the iOS app has been paid for years at a $0.99 price point – now aligning it with other platforms’ business models.
Competitive Market for App Developers
Beyond the scope of messaging apps, developers also need to re-evaluate how they identify opportunities. Providing in-app communication between users, bridging into the world of social messaging has become a must in today’s market. The most successful apps today, include a strong social engagement component. Savvy mobile app developers should realize the hidden potential behind creating a channel of communication between their users. Allowing your users to express themselves and to communicate with other users who share common interests, will significantly increase overall user retention.
Messaging apps are continuously on the rise and are slowly becoming the new, private, instantaneous and content-based social networks. Developers now have a small, yet clear, window of opportunity to enhance their apps and jump on the messaging bandwagon!