Create personal profiles, build networks of friends, share photos, videos and music. This may sound exactly like Facebook, but hundreds of millions of tech-savvy young people turn to a wave of instant messaging applications based on these actions that are sweeping across North America, Asia and Europe.
Such applications include Kik and WhatsApp , both products ‘start-ups’ in North America and KakaoTalk of Kakao, Line of NHN Corp. and WeChat of Tencent Holdings, which have flourished in the Asian markets.
Combining elements of text messaging and social networking applications provide a quick way of communication for smart phone users , from photographs and short texts YouTube clips, ignoring both SMS plans offered by mobile operators and as social networks.
Facebook , with 1.000 million users, is still by far the most popular website in the world, and its intensified focus on mobile devices has made it the most used application on smartphones too. However, through Silicon Valley, investors and industry experts say that there is a possibility that messaging applications can threaten the dominance of Facebook in the coming years. The largest are even beginning to emerge as “platforms” that can fledged support third party applications such as games.
No doubt many of those who are using the new messaging applications remain on Facebook, indicating that there is little immediate sign that the social network to lose its market dominance. In a press conference this week, the company will release Android-related news , the most popular mobile operating system worldwide, which could include a new version of Android with deeper integration of Facebook messaging tools or possibly even Facebook phone brand.
However, the companies dedicated to messaging apps should be able to make some big inroads as investors. Meanwhile, spokesmen for Facebook declined to comment on the issue, citing the announcement scheduled for Thursday.
The great challenge of Facebook is recovering back to users as Jacob Robinson, a 15-year-old high school student in Newcastle upon Tyne in the UK, who said that the messaging application Kik “exploded” among friends about six months ago. It has become the most used application on your Android phone because it is the easiest way for him to send different types of multimedia messages for free, making it about 200 times a day.
Robinson said he exchanged his duties snapshots with friends while staying up late studying for exams.
“We are also in bed with our phone all night, searching YouTube funny videos , quickly share them with your friends, “he added. “It’s easy. You can launch and leave Kik”.
Facebook “has really started to lose its advantage here,”says Robinson, who found their interactions on Facebook less interesting than their real-time chats.
Kik has amassed 40 million users since its launch in 2010 .Participants include Whatsapp Silicon Valley, funded by Sequoia Capital, and MessageMe, launched earlier this month by a group of game makers viral. MessageMe has received funding from True Ventures and First Round Capital, among others, and got 1 million downloads in its first week.
Meanwhile, Asian companies are producing some of the fastest growing applications in history . WeChat Tencent has 400 million users, more than Twitter, by way of comparison, while KakaoTalk Line and got 120 million users and 80 million, respectively. Both have laid the foundation to expand into the U.S. market
The growth of messaging applications reflect the dramatic change in Internet use in recent years, like web visits via computers have stagnated while smartphones and downloading applications have soared.
The CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg , has publicly called a “mobile society” to emphasize the priorities of the company. Last year acquired photo sharing app Instagram , which has remained red hot, while Facebook also launched its own Messenger application, which provides a set of communication tools for smartphones.
However, Facebook has been forced to play defense . Earlier this year, the company cut data integration with a new company called Snapchat and then imitated his role with a new tool called Poke messaging , sending messages that self-destruct. Also has shut its integration with messaging applications as MessageMe and Voxer.
At the same time, Facebook has also hired graphic artists to create emoticons to Messenger that emulate features messaging applications such as Line, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
Dave Morin, Facebook’s former employee who left to found the social network social network Path in 2010, said last summer that recognized the role of the functions of messaging applications for smartphones, and quickly began working to incorporate them.
Since Path launched a new version of its application earlier this month, the number of daily users has increased by 15 percent, which Morin attributed to new messaging features. “What is the number one reason why people have this thing?” Morin says raising his iPhone. “is to call, write and communicate” . In terms of messaging, He says it is “based mobile social networks”.
While current social networks move to incorporate messaging features, the new wave of messaging applications are looking to social networking platforms that support a variety of features and innovations allow external developers.
“The tried and true method for a social network is to first build a network in which applications are built on their own and then opens up to developers , “said Charles Hudson, a partner at early stage venture capital SoftTech VC.
This was at first on Facebook, where users and growth of its revenues were driven by game publishers like Zynga , made popular games like FarmVille for the Facebook platform.
In the South Korean market, for example, eight of the ten highest grossing applications for Android are games built on top of KakaoTalk. Tencent announced last November that it would introduce a mobile wallet function that allows the payment of goods WeChat . And Tencent also makes money in China by using application data location to show nearby merchants offers to potential customers.