As per a recent research by GlobalWebIndex, APAC and India in particular are the biggest markets for mobile messaging. WhatsApp that has more than 60 million monthly active users remains the top messaging app in the country with 52 percent market share, followed by Facebook Messenger with 42 percent, Skype with 37 percent and WeChat with 26 percent share. Viber stood at fifth position with 18 percent share, followed by Line with 12 percent.
However, WeChat which stands as the biggest competitor for WhatsApp globally and in India is once again the fastest growing messaging app with 2356 per cent growth, followed by WhatsApp which grew 334 percent between 2013 and 2014. The study further states that the use of mobile messaging applications has increased 113 percent year-over-year in 2014 and is showing no signs of decline.
However messaging 2.0 is now over. With WhatsApp acquired by Facebook, Viber by Rakuten, Kakao Talk merged with Daum Communications, we are witnessing the end of the rise of mobile-focused independent messaging startups that started just five years ago. Does that mean Ephemeral messengers like Snapchat, as well as anonymous apps like Whisper, Secret, and Yik Yak are the answer for the next generation of messaging? Are we going to see the same trends in Indian market?
Lighthouse insights spoke to market experts in the consumer and B2B messaging space to find out their thoughts on – How mobile messaging in India will evolve in 2015. Listed below are the edited excerpts.
Kavin Bharti Mittal, Founder and CEO, Hike Messenger
Localization to drive the messaging growth in 2015. While India’s clout on the global scene is growing everyday, there are some aspects, which make India absolutely unique with peculiarities that are truly Indian.
The Indian mobile user-base can be classified into three kinds. First are those who have a good understanding of the mobile data, much like the western nations. Then there are those users who are still experimenting with data. Lastly, there are the ones who are offline and they account to a majority of mobile users in India.
In such a diverse market, the only products that’ll survive and thrive are the ones, that address local needs in addition to competing at a global level as well in terms of quality. Keeping a close eye on what consumers want, seeking continuous feedback and addressing their needs better is a big advantage for homegrown startups.
We believe, a player that offers compelling features with a local appeal will clearly stand out amongst the plethora of applications flooding the market today.
Nilay Arora, VP Marketing and Business Development, WeChat India
In 2015, we see mobile messaging evolving from an SMS 2.0 approach to a multi-functional, multi-utility platform where users will not just interact with their friends and family but also with brands, celebrities and entities. This pattern will accelerate only as mobile messaging becomes a ubiquitous mode of communication, notifications and interaction.
This new avatar of mobile messaging would enable users to consume content, games and services on messaging platform and even share it with their friends. WeChat is already the leader in this paradigm shift by introducing richer features such as stickers, calling and location based services and combining these with Official Accounts. The Smartphone users of 2015 will demand a smarter and richer experience from their messaging apps – and the players who’re evolving themselves as per the needs of consumers are going to be successful.
Adam Baker, Co-Founder, Reel Messenger
56% of new smartphone owners in India expect to download a messaging app in the next 30 days. Messaging is being driven by the emergence of 3G and Indian mobile users upgrading from feature phone to smartphone in their millions. As this shift occurs, a better, richer experience is expected and video is core to this experience.
Video messaging is still at a nascent stage in India, however as video is such a huge part of popular media in India, we are already witnessing the adoption of video as the next big thing in messaging. Expect to see a shift from standard text messaging (SMS & IM) to photo and video messaging over the next 12 months
Sam Rufus Nallaraj, CEO, Mxit India
Apps will get more and more targeted: We’re going to see people going back to the idea of apps as tools, meaning apps will be created to address very targeted needs.
Apps will get more disposable: Now with third-party app platforms make it easier and easier to build apps, organizations can bring apps to market quickly that are intended to meet short-term objectives.
Apps will be used more for marketing: Targeting a device that’s with a consumer all the time, marketers are seeing the huge potential to leverage things like location, photo-sharing and messaging to build more engagement.
Apps will get more plentiful in B2E: There is a shift away from seeing Apps only as a broadcast mechanism aimed at a public audience, to having specific purposes targeting a particular group of people, such as members of an organization, university alumni, etc.
Along with these, apps will incorporate feedback mechanisms more and more, providing ways for users to participate in two-way communication. This could include anything from a survey to tap-here-to-send-a-comment. The app only as a one-way broadcast mechanism won’t be enough going forward.
Aakrit Vaish, Co-Founder & CEO, Haptik Inc.
Mobile messaging has turned out to be the most convenient form of communication in the history of the Internet. Primary reasons being its on the go, asynchronous and free. This fits in very well with the nature of the Indian market, which is why one of WhatsApps’s biggest markets is India. I believe that over time messaging will become the primary form of communication for all things – personal, business, professional, etc. It will eat into time spent on email, phone, or online chat.
Similar to Haptik, we will see many more applications where messaging is a better form of finding the solution than traditional methods. 2015 promises to be a great year where at least 100m more smartphones will hit the market and all of them will look at sending a text as the most convenient way of getting things done.
Deepak Ravindran, Founder and CEO, Hatchery Software
Indian Internet usage is skyrocketing. As per GSMA report, India is the fourth largest smartphone market. Over 95 percent of mobile users in India access messaging apps multiple times a day and 45 percent Indian users prefer messaging apps over social networks and calls, as per the recent report from InMobi.
B2B is very interesting and exciting. The best thing is the monetization model where any business will be willing to invest in technologies which can bring them customers. The challenge is to convince them to use technology and only simple product will work for them. India has the highest shop density in the world with over 11 outlets for every 1000 people. Indian retail market is set to reach $700-$750 billion by 2015. With Lookup, we aim to bring the power of technology into the hands of every small business owner to help them connect with customers effortlessly.