With 450 million active users each month and 1 million new sign-ups per day, WhatsApp is indeed the world’s most popular messaging app.
However, figures revealed today show that WeChat is catching up. WeChat’s parent company, Tencent, released its earnings report today revealing that the combined monthly active users of WeChat and Weixin (the version available in China) reached 355 million as of end 2013, an increase of 121 percent year-on-year and up six percent quarter-on-quarter.
No doubt WeChat dominates in China, and as Tencent didn’t release a breakdown of the monthly active users according to region, there’s no certainty how it performed in markets beyond its home ground. However, WeChat has been intensifying its efforts to attract overseas users. It doubled its international footprint to 100 million users in three months last year, and earlier this year it passed 100 million downloads on Google Play internationally.
In the meantime, user growth on Tencent’s other communications and social networking platforms, QQ and Qzone, slowed throughout last year. The company says this is because users shed multiple accounts when they shift from PCs to mobile devices.
In the future, Tencent wants to extend its communication platforms to “support a broad portfolio of associated applications spanning activities such as games, entertainment, information, and utilities,” essentially completing its evolution to become more like a social platform and not just a chat app.
WeChat rolled out its games across the world in January this year, after it introduced games and added support for payments toWeixin in August last year. “We will also leverage Official Accounts and Weixin Payment to explore O2O (online-to-offline) and mobile e-commerce opportunities in China,” a Tencent statement says.
This year, Tencent also plans to ramp up its online video service — which could see videos and related content being introduced into WeChat. It also intends to focus on marketing WeChat in certain international markets, and encourage the uptake of its payment solutions in China, which includes rolling out subsidies to consumers and merchants.
Headline image via Bryanlyt