Jon Russell was Asia Editor for The Next Web from 2011 to 2014. Originally from the UK, he lives in Bangkok, Thailand. You can find him on T Jon Russell was Asia Editor for The Next Web from 2011 to 2014. Originally from the UK, he lives in Bangkok, Thailand. You can find him on Twitter, Angel List, LinkedIn.
We’ve talked about how the rise mobile messaging apps in Asia is challenging Facebook and others social networks for some time, and a new compendium of figures shows that already apps are topping social networks in Japan and Korea.
The statistics were compiled by Singapore-based We Are Social, as part of its third edition of reports detailing the uptake of social media across Asia. The agency has aggregated a range of data which shows that Line in Japan and Kakao Talk in Korea now rank higher than Facebook in terms of active users — with 36 million and 19 million, respectively.
Neither Facebook nor Twitter is the top dog in China by virtue of the fact that both services are blocked. For now, Qzone takes the plaudits. We expect that WeChat — which maker Tencent revealed will get a games platform soon — will crest 400 million registered users at some point this year and, though it doesn’t look like overtaking Qzone, it is challenging the dominant Twitter-like Sina Weibo for attention, and that is no easy thing.
Line is at 120 million total downloads and seeing strong growth in Southeast Asia. It’s entirely feasible that its figures may top that of Facebook in some markets this year. It has already passed 10 million downloads in both Thailand and Taiwan, putting it within reach of Facebook in those countries. It will be interesting to see how the active user bases compare as 2013 progresses.
Interestingly, Kakao Talk partnered with Yahoo Japan, after focusing on games for the country, it is developing into a significant challenger to Japan on its home turf in Japan. That’s another battle to keep an eye on.
Asia may be Facebook’s largest continent, but the social network is up against some formidable rivals in the region. That’s not to say that multiple services won’t co-exist — we believe that they can, alongside Facebook’s own incarnation, its Messenger app — but mobile chat apps are undoubtedly meaning Facebook users are spending less time on the social network, which should be a concern.
Facebook would be advised to consider introducing features that have proven successful in Asia — such as gaming, stickers and video calls — if it wants to compete head on with WeChat, Line and the rest.
Here’s the money shot from the report. You’ll not that the figures are active user numbers rather than total registrations as was previously the case:
This is how it relates to the previous tallying from October 2012:
Headline image via ThinkStock, WeChat image via bryanlyt.com
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