Chinese internet giant Tencent in its approach to expand its mobile messaging app WeChat in multiple countries outside China is definitely looking strong to crack the Indian market with its aggressive marketing. It came to India in last year August.
The app has already gained recognition in the emerging markets of South East Asia and claims to have over 50 million registered users outside China and is on its target to cross 400 million chart globally soon with availability in 49 countries.
For now the app is available on iPhone, Android, Symbian, and Windows Phone platforms. Globally WeChat competes with other instant messaging app like Whatsapp, BBM, but in addition to these it will be facing competition from Nimbuzz, Hike, KakaoTalk, Viber, GupShup, as well in Indian market.
In India, it has been one of the most downloaded apps on Android & iOS with its daily users grown 5 fold in the last 1 month. Brands like Cafe Coffee Day, Big Bazaar, Yahoo! Cricket, Goibibo, Santa Banta, and Tradus are few that have started their Official Accounts (feature which allows companies to interact with their customers) on WeChat.
Started in January 2011, WeChat’s services are same as other mobile social networking apps, but there are few features which makes it unique in respect of others. Such as its, Hold-To-Talk feature which allows to send voice messages with the touch of a button.
Currently WeChat’s biggest competitor is Whatsapp which has more than 200 million users worldwide. Highlighting the difference from Whatsapp, one of the WeChat official claims that most people use WeChat and WhatsApp, which is good for as they see it as more of a social communication platform whereas Whatsapp is more to messaging.
The app also support video calling and have “Live Chat” option which lets users chat in real-time. It allows users to post and share images, text and profiles as features similar to Facebook with a dedicated profile page and privacy control. People can also interact with strangers while maintaining their privacy.
In India, just like other markets WeChat will be look for partnerships with brands and operators and will be looking to add up more features to bring in differentiation such as location based services. It will try to monetize through brand associations, but to be the market leader in usage, will be its first focus. The app is available for free for users and it will remain free forever says the company.
WeChat has also become one of the first mobile app in India to market on TV leveraging the celebrity branding. It is using similar approach in Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Indonesia and other countries.
With the rise of smartphone population in India and shift of people towards Internet based messaging laid by BBM and Whatsapp, the Indian market offers big market opportunity in mobile app space as there were 44 million smartphone users in India in Q4 of 2012.