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LINE vs KakaoTalk and M-Commerce Battle

June 10, 2013 CK Wong Category : , , , , , , , , ,

First, Groupon is on KakaoTalk, followed by Rakuten on LINE, subsequently Zalora on KakaoTalk. All happened within a span of 2 months!

The mobile messaging app war is heating up in Malaysia, and local e-commerce players are hoping to rely on messaging app to boost their mobile commerce share.

Messaging app war shaping up in Malaysia

WhatsApp was the first mobile messaging app that hit Malaysians at a large scale, possibly still the leading messaging app here with the largest base compared to its rivals at the moment.

However, WhatsApp's market leader position is under big threat from much more innovative competitors - WeChat, LINE and KakaoTalk who are all gathering huge momentum locally.

By referring to the table below, it makes sense to apply the global trend to Malaysia too, in which WeChat and LINE especially are growing much faster than WhatsApp.

  Messaging app     Started since     Stronghold     User base  
WeChat January 2011 China 300 million
WhatsApp July 2009 Spain 200 million+
LINE June 2011 Japan 150 million
KakaoTalk March 2010 South Korea 90 million

In fact, LINE is growing faster than Facebook and Twitter globally!

LINE growing faster than Facebook, Twitter

If you still remember Facebook, Twitter phenomenons, it is very critical for messaging app to scale fast in order to conquer the world, and the race to world domination is still quite open now.

Although WeChat has the largest user base right now, most of its users are from China and it does not have the "complete package" in terms of features and ecosystem as compared to LINE or KakaoTalk.

Interesting to note that Tencent (the WeChat's owner) has recently acquired 13.54% of KakaoTalk, so are they allies now?

LINE vs KakaoTalk in Malaysia

Back to Malaysia, LINE vs KakaoTalk are shaping up the messaging app war at the moment, both with aggressive marketing activities such as launching TV commercials, working with local partners and media etc.

They also share the same ultimate objective in growing user base, with SPEED. LINE with millions of user base in Malaysia is arguably leading KakaoTalk (600k as of June 2013?) at the moment, but both are growing fast each day. WeChat on another hand had announced surpassing 1 million users in November 2012.

LINE and KakaoTalk do share similar "cool factors" plus interesting features, but LINE has the edge in growing users with their hugely popular casual games (remember LINE Pop? LINE Bubble?) and kawaii stickers (stamps) distribution.

LINE ultra cool stickers

As you might have noticed, Asian-originated messaging apps employ similar strategies by engaging celebrities in TV commercials and "official accounts" for their fans to follow. On another hand, LINE is working closely with Nokia while KakaoTalk has just partnered with Friendster in Malaysia.

In summary, messaging app providers prefer to work with partners with wide reach in order to boost their brand awareness and ultimately grow user base. They will open up for selective brands (with substantial cost) once they have reached a sizable level of user base.

Interestingly, the first brands that LINE and KakaoTalk are collaborating with locally are all online marketplaces or retailers, namely Rakuten, Groupon and Zalora.

  Online marketplace     Messaging app     Started since     Friends *  
Groupon KakaoTalk April 2013 11,718
Rakuten LINE June 2013 6,250
Zalora KakaoTalk June 2013 2,443
* "Friends" data collected on 9 June 2013 (1:13am)

By referring to the table above, Rakuten and Zalora launched their brand account almost at the same time but Rakuten has enjoyed a better growth rate than both Zalora and Groupon, which shows that "Friends" growth are very dependable on user base especially during early stage.

How can mobile messaging apps help e-commerce? Is messaging app mobile commerce booster? Read how can mobile messaging apps boost m-commerce?


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