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.
Momo, the popular Chinese flirting app valued at $2 billion, is making a retreat from the international market after it announced plans to discontinue the English version of its service on July 1.
The service is hugely popular in China and boasts more than 100 million downloads for iOS and Android. Back October 2012, it jumped on the internationalization wagon alongside messaging apps like WeChat and Line by launching an standalone English version of its iOS app. However, it seems that the move didn’t quite go according to plan, even though the company claims users in 150 countries.
In a short note to users, the company explained that it has come to “a tough decision” to shutter the English version of the app from July 1, although it didn’t explain why. There is a positive, since the company teased that it is preparing to launch a “brand new product” based on what it has learned — that perhaps might mean a standalone app for non-Chinese users?
Earlier this year, there was talk that Momo might join the many Chinese tech firms eyeing the US private markets with a listing of its own. The company is said to be worth around $2 billion.
Momo’s more recent news mentions have been in conjunction with a ‘clean up’ campaign from the Chinese government which is focused on mobile apps. WeChat removed an estimated 20 million accounts linked to pornography, prostitution and fraud, and — given its position as China top flirting app — it’s hardly a surprise that Momo was part of that initiative too.
The app itself functions pretty much like a standard flirting app. It includes location-based friend discovery, voice messaging, group chats, ephermal messages, communities and more. More advanced features — including games, stickers and other in-app purchases — rolled out to the Chinese version of the app, but never hit the international version.
Here’s the full text of the note sent to users of the English service:
Dear user, thank you for staying with Momo. We have made a tough decision to discontinue this version on July 1st, 2014. We want to take the chance to thank you for always being there for us: you have been the driving force behind our mission to change the way people connect. Now we’re working on a brand new product featuring our exciting learnings along the way! It will be ready soon. We’re here to thank you again and answer any questions that you might have.
We’ve reached out to Momo for more details — we’ll update this post with any new information that we’re given.
Image via Kzenon / Shutterstock — thanks TProphet
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