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WeChat closes in on WhatsApp with 438M active users

WeChat, the dominant messaging platform in China, is looking to expand internationally

Technology trends and news by Steven Loeb
August 13, 2014 | Comments
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/389c

The mobile messaging space is pretty crowded, with services like Facebook Messenger, Tango, WhatsApp, WeChat, Line and Skype all going after the same users. Right now, with a total of 500 million users, WhatApp seems to be the king of mobile messaging, but it may not be for much longer, as one of its key competitors is coming up behind it, and fast.

WeChat, which is the dominant messaging platform in China, also known as the only major market where WhatsApp does not have a presence, has grown to 438 million monthly active users, it was revealed in the second quarter earnings report of its parent company Tencent on Wednesday. 

The 438 million, which is the combined number for WeChat and Weixen, which is what the service is called in China, represented an increase of 11% quarter to quarter, up from 396 million, and an increase of 57% year to year, up from 235.8 million in the second quarter of 2013.

So what led to these increased numbers? According to Tencent, it has to do with better functions, as well as new partnerships. 

"We enhanced the community and payment functionalities of Weixin, and broadened the breadth and reach of Weixin’s service offerings by connecting our core capabilities with those of our strategic partners," the company wrote in the earnings report.

For example, it noted, through the partnership that was announced in March with JD.com, "users can now purchase products from JD.com through a direct access point in Weixin and settle the transactions via Weixin Payment, and can search content of Weixin’s Official Accounts via Sogou."

In addition, Tencent says it "continued to focus on driving user engagement in selected international markets," though no specific markets were actually named. 

Both WeChat and WhatsApp have yet another company to worry about: Japanese messaging app Line passed 400 million users in April. Line reached the 100 million mark in March 2011 and then took nearly another two years to reach 200 million in January of last year. It then doubled that number in just over a single year.

The mobile messaging space

Mobile messaging has been a very hot space this year, with the Facebook deal to buy WhatsApp for $19 billion of course being the biggest one.

In addition there was also Alibaba's $215 million investment in Tango, a company that recently boosted its valuation to $1.5 billion through a secondary financing, and there was also Rakuten's $900 million purchase of Viber.

Line announced in June that it was going public, first in Tokyo then in the United States, this year. The company is reportedly looking to raise $10 billion in its IPO.

(Image source: cheezburger.com)


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