Mobile messaging apps have triggered a communication revolution globally. India, too, has been caught in this whirlwind. As savvy urban consumers jump on to mobile messaging apps discarding SMS, telecom service providers are learning to work with messaging start-ups even as the latter experimenting with different business models to bring the cash home
Sheena, who made new friends on her first day of college, was in a dilemma by the time she left for home. Her new friends used BlackBerry handsets, and were all connected with each other through its messenger service, BBM, while Sheena used a Micromax handset. Saddened by the thought that she would be the only one to miss out on the fun of messaging, she sat down to watch television. And she found a solution. During one of the ad breaks, Micromax announced that the so-far exclusive BBM messenger service was now available on its smartphones. Sheena quickly downloaded the application. Next day at college, she surprised all her friends by connecting to them through her Micromax smartphone.
If eight years ago, social media opened a new gateway of communication, over-the-top (OTT) messaging services—services that send instant messages over the internet and don’t depend on wireless cell networks—have triggered a revolution globally. India, too, has been caught in this whirlwind affair and has witnessed the launch of many mobile messaging applications including Line and WeChat in the recent past. Today, a consumer can easily download a hoard of chat based applications on her mobile phone starting from WhatsApp to Facebook chat, Google chat, ChatOn (launched by Samsung), etc.
According to industry estimates, US based WhatsApp is leading the charts with over 20 million active users in India, part of its worldwide active user base of more than 300 million. China based WeChat or Weixin (as known in Chinese) is hot on the heels with about 300 million active users globally. Next in line is Japan based Line Corporation’s chat service Line with about 230 million global users. In India, Line claims to have over 5 million users. Another chat service Nimbuzz claims to have 150 million users worldwide with 25 million users based in India. Meanwhile, Bharti Soft Bank (BSB), a joint venture between the Bharti Group and internet company SoftBank, which had introduced is own messenger service Hike, has 3.5 million users in India which is part of its 5 million users globally. Mobile handset manufacturer