Popular Messaging Apps Around the World

May 8, 2014 •

Messaging AppsWhat app do you use when you want to send a message on your mobile phone?

Chances are, the app you reach for is not the one used by people in other parts of the world and not the one that you’ll use daily in just a few years. A few of the apps that are challenging SMS and Facebook Messenger here and around the world:

The app’s 272 million users make it the world’s fifth most popular app, after only Facebook and Google products. Never heard of it? That’s because nearly all of WeChat’s userbase resides in China, Indonesia, India and Thailand. The app supports voice chat, group chats and video chat conversations.

KakaoTalk is a fairly straight-forward free messaging app. What makes it unusual is its reach. It’s the app used by 93% of mobile phone users in South Korea. It’s also immensely profitable; while many popular apps go years without earning any revenue, KakaoTalk made over $200 million last year.

The app-ranking service AppAnnie says that Japanese/Korean company Line earned more than any app company outside of gaming services. Line offers users a number of free services that include VOIP calls, text messages, video calls and exchanges of graphic and audio files. They make their money from in-app purchases and sales of other apps.

This is one of the many messaging services looking to take over the market in North America. The app goes beyond simple messaging to include a built-in browser to allow you to share pictures, video and web pages with a single swipe of your finger. Voice chat lets you operate hands-free while your mobile is safely in the car phone mount. It originally launched in 2010 but was soon removed from the Blackberry app store for copyright infringement. The creators regrouped and relaunched in 2013 with plenty of VC funding. The current target demographic is teens; Kik even has a built-in OneDirection app for that demographic. The pearl-clutchers have worried over the app’s use to spread adult-oriented bot spam, but, that won’t be enough to keep the kids away.

The only constant in mobile technology is change; the apps you use to contact friends will probably change in the next few years. Which ones have the features that you can most see yourself using?