Saturday, February 23, 2013
Chat App Battle Heats Up Amid Flurry Of New Features
TOKYO (Nikkei)--Online service companies are rushing to enter the fast-growing market of instant-messaging applications, offering original features in a bid to take on industry giants such as NHN Japan Corp., the company behind the hugely popular Line app.
"This is the vegetable dish my daughter loved," a 30-something mother said in proudly posting a picture of the dish in an album shared with other moms from her child's preschool, using NEC Biglobe Ltd.'s RingReef app. Launched in October 2011, the service welcomed many new users after it enhanced the photo-sharing feature last July, with members jumping to 100,000 from 40,000.
Online chatting was popular during the Internet's initial proliferation in the 1990s and the late-1980s boom of text-based personal computer network communication. It faded subsequently, until Line's debut quickly reignited demand.
Line was soon followed by DeNA Co.'s (2432) comm and Kakao Japan Corp.'s Kakao Talk apps. These three services alone drew some 60 million users in Japan.
New market entrants are seeking to catch up to the three leaders with original services. Video game developer Square Enix Holdings Co. (9684) has added an instant-messaging service to its multiplayer games, letting users who play on the same team hammer out game strategies, for instance.
Kayac Inc., the operator of group chat app Nakamap, has tied up with video game companies to link game players' registration IDs and Nakamap members' IDs. Now some 30 game companies offer 50 games featuring Nakamap, and registered users have reached about 1.4 million.
(The Nikkei, Feb. 23 morning edition)