WeChat rides the IM wave
The $100 billion Chinese internet company Tencent's instant messaging app WeChat was the most downloaded non game app in India among the million apps in Apple's appstore for iPhones. The app, which was launched in India in May 2013, globally has 272 million monthly active users and is closely behind the leader WhatsApp that has more than 350 million users.
WeChat in India is being modified locally and marketed by Indian internet company Ibibo. Tencent invested in Ibibo in 2008 and with WeChat emerging as key part of global agenda of the Chinese company, Ibibo team in India has been working on WeChat mostly since 2012. The company is expecting to grow at 100% as the instant messaging market has grown at a similar pace in India during 2013.
"Tencent has done this in the instant messaging era in China and we have the right DNA and insights to back our growth. Getting people to pay for some value addition and let the gaming come at the right time of the critical mass of internet audience. This ecosystem is not built by advertising, but by users. We understand that it is a long game and India is a market of diversities. We are not in a hurry to say that we have reached a milestone as the milestone itself is growing so fast," says Rahul Razdan, president of Tencent India.
Razdan is unfazed by competition and the emergence of other free messaging apps and says that an ecosystem of such magnitude cannot be replicated. "Ecosystems cannot be replicated overnight. Apps may become the flavour of the month," he says. The Chinese company is competing globally against others like Snapchat, Japanese player Line, India's Bharti Group's Hike, BlackBerry messenger called BBM and Facebook's Messenger among others.
WeChat, which originated as Weixin in China, being envisaged only for mobile and not being a legacy product coming from web or browser itself sets it apart, he says. According to Razdan innovations like voice messaging, video calls and shaking the phones to identify friends' phones or through QR codes are among the many innovations that sets the platform distinct, he says.