Most popular Asia-based mobile messenger apps as of 4th quarter 2016, based on number of monthly active users (in millions)

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This statistic gives information on the most popular mobile messenger apps in Asia as of the fourth quarter of 2016, based on number of monthly active users worldwide. As of that month, LINE had 217 million monthly active users.

Improving technologies paired with increased competitiveness on the mobile service providers market have led to ever decreasing costs for SMS-based communication. Nevertheless, user demand for social media-like features, such as sharing of photos, videos, voice messages or emoticons, as well as zero or low costs through an internet connection, have created a need on the market for mobile messenger apps.

With 700 million monthly users around the world as of 2015, California-based Whatsapp is the global market leader, followed by Facebook Messenger and QQ Mobile. However, regional markets differ greatly, with the notable mention of the Asian mobile messenger app market, where a number of local products are continuously expanding and competing for leadership. The most important players here are the Chinese WeChat, with 549 million monthly active users in Asia alone, followed by the Japan-based LINE, with 205 million users and the South Korean KakaoTalk. All three are market leaders in their country of origin.

WeChat was developed in 2011 by the Chinese investment holding company Tencent Holdings Limited under the name of Weixin and was later rebranded for the international market. The app is popular especially among Chinese youth, where more than 45 percent of users are between 18 and 25 years old . WeChat’s most popular features are voice and text chatting, stickers, as well as the Friendshake, which enables two users to add each other to their circle of friends by simultaneously shaking their smartphones. LINE, which is gaining millions of new users from one month to another, was launched in 2011, by engineers at NHN Japan, the Japanese arm of the South Korean Naver Corporation. Although LINE is aggressively marketing and trying to expand into the South Korean market, 93 percent of smartphone owners in the country use the local messenger app Kakaotalk.

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