Telegram appears to be the early winner of WhatsApp users fleeing following its proposed sale to Facebook and four-hour outage this weekend, but it seems there are also beneficiaries in Asia too.
Line, a chat app from Japan that claims 360 million registered global users, says it netted two million new users and saw “record-breaking” growth outside of Asia within the 24 hours that followed WhatsApp’s downtime.
Though not as impressive as Telegram, which bagged 5 million downloads in one day and has topped app stores in 48 countries, the details revealed by Line are interesting for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, Telegram models itself on WhatsApp. The user experience, the features and more follow the same pattern, only with a stronger focus on security — as its Twitter account bio testifies.
Those similarities make Telegram an obvious WhatsApp replacement, but Line is less similar and goes well beyond a basic messenger.
WhatsApp just announced plans to add voice calls, but Line has long offered voice/video chat, Vine-like short video capture, stickers and more. Aside from those chat features, it also provides a games platform, an opt-in to get messages from brands, and it is dabbling in e-commerce.
Secondly, it appears to be making ground in new geographies. Line is strongest in Asia — it is dominant in Japan, Taiwan and Thailand — but it says that ”new daily register users spiked at a rate of five times more than usual in North America, South America and Europe.”
Without raw figures its difficult to know whether this bump was anything more than growth from a small user base. That said, any increase in the US market is notable since it remains unclear whether Line’s more complicated, ‘Asiafied’ user experience will appeal to smartphone owners there.
We know from talking to the executive in charge of its international expansion plans that Line is focusing its efforts on Europe and Latin America right now — while it is still growing in Asia — so any progress it can make in the US at this point will be a bonus.
A statement from Line focused on the service’s reliability, which was recently illustrated in Korea when Line downloads jumped after dominant Korean app Kakao Talk suffered an extended outage.
LINE downloads in South Korea spike during KakaoTalk outage http://t.co/4GfycbJ89R [via @teroterotero @whatthebit] pic.twitter.com/JIrGxlM1S6
— Jon Russell (@jonrussell) December 9, 2013
A Bloomberg report published today suggests Japanese operator Softbank is interested in investing in Line at an estimated $14.9 billion valuation, while the company has long been tipped to go public. Either option could provide funding to further the company’s international expansion plans.