Yesterday Chinese web giant Tencent revealed its Q4 2013 earnings report. The company made US$9.91 billion in revenue for the whole of 2013, up 38 percent on the 2012 figure. In Q4 it made US$2.78 billion, up 40 percent over Q4 2012. However the most interesting announcement from the company came when it revealed it’s messaging app WeChat’s growth numbers.
WeChat’s parent company, Tencent, revealed yesterday that the combined monthly active users of WeChat and Weixin (the version available in China) reached 355 million as of end 2013, an increase of 121 percent year-on-year and up six percent quarter-on-quarter.
The app had reported 271.9 million monthly active users in Q3 2013.
The messaging app that dominates China however didn’t release a breakdown of the monthly active users according to region. While it is known that it doubled its international footprint to 100 million users in three months last year but beyond that we are not sure about how the app is performing in other international countries. At a time when the company states that it has a strong presence in markets like India, Malaysia, Mexico and Philippines, among others.
WhatsApp, WeChat’s closest rival sees more than 465 million active users each month with an addition of 1 million new sign-ups per day and is the world’s popular messaging app. With Facebook buying Whatsapp recently for $19 billion, the fixture of messaging apps has completely changed.
For about five years WhatsApp only focussed on simplifying messaging but post acquisition has announced its plans to enter voice services too.
While WhatsApp still dominates the global messaging map, WeChat clearly dominates the Chinese market. Over the time WeChat has evolved from a messaging app to a mobile social network. It has avenues like games, entrainment, information, utilities along with communication.
This year it also plans to ramp up its online video service — which could see videos and related content being introduced into WeChat. However the company has faced major roadblocks in expanding its mobile commerce because of strict regulations applied by China.
With Tencent now focusing on expanding in international markets where WeChat has less dominance and avoiding competing in markets where rival WhatsApp already has a strong user base, makes the competition more interesting.