Earlier in the year, Kakao Corp and Daum announced that they will merge through an equity swap, creating a company with a 3.4 trillion won (about $2.9 billion) market capitalization. Kakao is the maker of KakaoTalk, South Korea’s top messaging service, while Daum is one of the country’s largest Internet portals. If the deal goes through, the combined company will be listed in October, reported TC.
This was a big news in the messaging world since it also meant messaging 2.0 is reaching its end, wrote Danny Crichton on TC. “This year, Viber was bought by Rakuten in January, Whatsapp by Facebook in February, and now Kakao has announced it is merging with Daum. Thus, a revolution that started just a few years ago has now mostly finished.”
Danny also predicted that the next generation messaging would be dominated by the likes of ephemeral messaging and anonymous apps. Snapchat reported in May 2014 that the users on the app were sending 700 million photos and videos per day. This unprecedented liking of the app among the US teenagers had forced Facebook to acquire it but failed. Sources say that Facebook is now developing a clone of Snapchat.
Microsoft’s Skype has already launched a similar app called Skype Qik – asynchronous video messaging – that is, mobile video messages you create and share with others who may not be online at the same time as you. Video messaging is the natural progression of messaging so the market is getting crowded with a lot of new next gen messaging startups.
India, the next big market for internet services in Asia, is right now dominated by text messaging with players like WhatsApp, Hike, Line, and others. However, video messaging is a space that has been left untouched and Adam Baker with his recently launched video messaging app Reel is ready to strike gold. “WhatsApp the leader of the messaging world didn’t iterate good old SMS but video messaging changes the entire offering. It is the future of messaging,” said Adam while chatting with me from London.
Reel – video messaging app for India
Adam is a serial entrepreneur from London and often shuttles between London and Bangalore. He has been working on his new startup with Meera Rao Innes who also manages the Bangalore team. The app was launched last month. Live chatting is a pain if you have families living across the globe and data costs in India make things worse. This led both the co-founders to dig some data around the messaging space and data challenges in the country.
“We started with India and we knew that people here are very reserved in spending too much money on data; smartphones are growing in the country but the market is dominated by feature phones. Additionally average smartphones have storage issues. So we have built a video messenger to perfectly work in India with a belief that if we can crack the Indian market, we can then scale to other horizons.”
To know how well the app works, I downloaded it from the Google App store. The app takes your mobile number for authentication and once you have authenticated the home screen activates your camera to shoot video.
The app is pretty simple to use, you record a 20-second video which you can put on loop. Once you are satisfied with the video you can share with friends present on your address book. If it is a new user a message is sent to the person with the app download link. This trick not only allows new people to see the video if they are interested, it also helps grow app downloads.
The messages on the app get auto-deleted after being watched. The app also allow users to share videos privately via secure messaging. That’s pretty much what Reel does for you right now with all the data being stored in the cloud.
But isn’t that the first version of Snapchat?
Adam knows that it is bound to have comparisons when the operations are similar but he also informs that Reel is built specifically for a market like India. “We have compressed the videos on the app to 100 kilobytes so that the data consumption is very less while users use the app. Besides privacy has been on top of the mind when we were building the app for India.”
With 3G yet to be rolled out successfully in the country, Reel works fine on 2G connection. Informing more about the initial response of the app, Adam states that Reel, which has got a few thousand downloads, is seeing two and a half sessions per day and users are sharing three and half videos per day on an average. “Our focus is going to be videos and on India. We are not interested in stickers but we are interested in clever ways such as engaging users on video groups. We got a healthy pipe line of features that we think would be fun and at the same time to listen to users and their feedback.”
Further he added, “Most companies after scaling in the developed market come to emerging markets like India but we have made our first base in India and from here we want to scale.”
Reel is looking to tap a market that is going to be built in the coming years; the co-founders are aware of this and ready to stick around. “Text messaging will be the leader but video which has iterated messaging will take some time to adopt in countries like India. Personally I think in the next 3-4 years there would be a sizable user base for video messaging in emerging markets.”
Adam is quite optimistic about the market opportunity in the video space but it would be interesting to see how users respond to Reel. Right now the growth has been organic but going further the team plans to invest on social media for building awareness.
While Reel has an upper hand of being the first video messaging app for India, deciding its fate right now would be too early. Would you download the app and spare your fingers from typing?