Asian mobile apps challenge tech giants like Apple, Google

  • PTI, Singapore
  • Updated: Nov 04, 2014 11:33 IST

Asian-origin mobile applications LINE, YAY and WeChat are posing challenges to technology giants Apple, Facebook, Google and other telecoms carriers, cutting into their market shares, according to a Singapore -based firm.

These social messaging services have become alternatives and offer more options for product advertisers, providers of goods and services and mobile apps, said Nakul Gupta, the Chief Technology Officer at Clone Algo group.

New inventions allow Tencent Holdings' WeChat users to book taxis, top up phone credit, while Clone Algo's YAY App users are able to talk and chat free besides being able to apply for online for micro loans and use Clone Algo trading algorithms.

Highlighting some of the latest achievements of these applications, Gupta said that in Thailand, Naver Corp's LINE broke all records recently through a "flash sales via its app" with more than five million users signing up to buy lipsticks and other products.

Companies marketing these services are further strengthening their product lines and marketing through acquisitions and raising funds for more research and development work, he said.

Rakuten Inc has acquired messaging company Viber for USD 900 million to gain further ground in the market place.

To support its market and R&D work, Singapore-based Clone Algo is raising USD 250 Million at a valuation of USD 11 billion while Line has similar placement plans, according to banking sources.

Recently launched YAY had difficulties in penetrating some of the smaller emerging markets because of the lack of scale or distribution infrastructure.

"But with the launch of YAY Micro loans, the service can now penetrate markets with our digital businesses," said Gupta of the Clone Algo.

All these service providers are competing for market share especially the billions of mobile phone users around the globe and especially the ever increasing numbers of mobile-savvy consumers in India and China.

Over 50 per cent of the active smart phones are on these user-friendly apps, which has already replaced the traditional short messages or SMSes.

"The market has become very attractive," said Gupta, pointing out that some companies have built a base of over 10 million per app. YAY, LINE, KakaoTalk and WeChat have emerged as some of the most popular in Asia with their offers of mixes of chat, downloadable icons and loans.

Though not ignorant of the challenges, the big players are not in a position to challenges the newcomers who are usually dominant in their domestic markets - YAY in India and Middle East, LINE in Japan, KakaoTalk in South Korea and WeChat in China.

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