You may have heard about Sony’s recent announcement for PlayStation,due out later this year, which is positioned against its main rivals Nintendo and Microsoft. However, the more important battle in the tech world these days may be between Asian messenger platforms for smartphones such as China’s WeChat, Korea’s KakaoTalk and Japan’s LINE.
Big players in the West such as Facebook better watch out too, because the corporations from Asia are looking to take over a sizable chunk of the English-language market. The competition is heating up and it is only going to get more fierce in the months and years to come.
Kakao, which produces KakaoTalk (a chat program similar to Google Talk or Blackberry Messenger), started out in South Korea only three years ago. Since that time, however, it has been growing in popularity every day and has begun to build up an IT empire to rival even Google and Apple.
WeChat is more concerned with its main Chinese competitor Sina Weibo, a hybrid of Facebook and Twitter, which recently passed the 500 million user mark.
It intends to target its bigger brothers by putting out a new app called ‘Kakao Page’ next month, which is a publishing platform that any company can use to create something like a mobile eBook with their own contents, but which may actually turn out to be an early version of its own app store. Kakao also has a shopping app akin to eBay or Amazon, but it has only been made available in the Korean language so far.
Kakao also intends to take on instant messaging giant LINE (which is in fact owned by Korean company NAVER, but was produced by a subsidiary in Japan) in the Japanese market by extending its built-in gaming platform to iOS devices in Japan. KakaoTalk currently has around 70 million users in 12 languages, whereas LINE has closer to 100 million in a reported 230 countries. But gaming is big business right now, as 95% of all app downloads in Korea from Google Play for Android (which is used by Samsung’s smartphones) are games. A similar figure is true in Japan.
WeChat from China will likely continue to dominate the Chinese market (it has had over 300 million downloads there and no competition from Twitter and Facebook which are officially banned in China), but it may have trouble gaining ground in other countries, aside from in Southeast Asia where no competitive chat applications have yet been produced. At the moment, WeChat is more concerned with its main Chinese competitor Sina Weibo, a hybrid of Facebook and Twitter, which recently passed the 500 million user mark.
By Tim Holm