January 8, 2014

WhatsApp? Chat Line Is Clear For A Hike.......................

It’s a new smartphone world and everything that makes your smartphone even smarter is enticing. So while more and more consumers are switching to smartphones, the application developers are readying new and interesting apps to keep the users hooked on to their device while connecting them 24x7, around the globe.

Players like WhatsApp, Nimbuzz, We Chat, Line, Facebook Chat, Hangouts, and Hike, among others, are gaining strong momentum among the Indian smartphone user. A lot of users are swiftly utilizing the benefits of these new-age tools to share music, pictures, and engage in community and peer-to-peer conversations.

In the last one year, chat usage amongst smartphone users has witnessed a significant increase from 70 percent in November 2012 to 86 percent in November 2013, according to NIMA.

While these applications are pushing the case for mobile broadband and data, they are also cutting down operators’ revenues from SMS and voice usage. Hence, a lot of telecom operators are collaborating with these players to find a mid-way revenue sharing model utilizing the advantages of these next-generation communication platforms.

In a country like India, one has already seen some partnership models develop between OTT players and operators during the last one year. However, as the popularity of these applications are growing, the market is set to witness a fierce competition among these chat players and the future landscape would depend much on how these player constantly innovate themselves and grab elite partnership rights with operators in the country.

The Top Rankers
The year 2013 witnessed the launch of some new chat apps like WeChat, Line and BlackBerry Messenger for Android in India. However, according to the study by NIMA, the early mover advantage has clearly worked for WhatsApp, which leads the segment by both penetration and engagement base.

WhatsApp, according to the study, is currently reaching around 76 percent of the country’s smartphone users, who spend around 33 percent of their browsing time on this application. This is followed by Google Play, Google Search, Gmail, Facebook, Google Maps and YouTube.

According to WhatsApp, it has around 30 million active users in the country out of its total 300 million users worldwide. The company is purely focusing on its messaging characteristic and is partnering with telcos for customized plans to consumers.

While WhatsApp is the undisputed leader, six out of the top 10 applications used by a smartphone user are Google brands.  Google’s diverse set of offerings are helping the company compete in a big way.

What Lies Ahead
The current year is likely to see a lot of action from chat players. While so far, the focus has been to attract consumers to join the platforms, there is likely to be a revenue discovery in the year 2014. So far, a majority of these players have stayed away from selling advertisement on their platforms. However, with some of them getting significant traffics, this can be a huge monetizing opportunity.

Some of the newer players are also expected to be more aggressive and would try to imitate the WhatsApp success story.

With high-speed data offerings like 3G and 4G expected to see further uptake in the year ahead, top telcos would emphasize on the importance of OTT partnerships in order to monetize their network investments and develop new revenue streams. Some of the telecom operators could also consider to imitate the service models adopted by OTT players and as such could build closer associations with OTT players to gain better understanding.

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