Late starters are trying to increase their presence in the fast-growing mobile messenger market. The competition is likely to heat up over time with the popularity of third-generation messengers, which are characterized by anonymity and the right to be forgotten, on the rise.
Local venture firm Brinicle’s Dontalk, which made its debut earlier this month, has attracted more than 450,000 subscribers so far. Although the number is easily eclipsed by KakaoTalk’s 35 million in Korea alone, it is increasing by a couple of thousand each day these days.
Dontalk focuses on the message function to distinguish itself. The message that is sent can be deleted if the other party has yet to open it. Person-to-person talk is also available in a group chat room. An additional chatting window has to be opened in KakaoTalk in order to do so, but Dontalk does away with this inconvenience. Plus, if necessary, the message can be deleted permanently after being shown for only 10 seconds or less.
SK Planet joined the race as well by launching Frankly Messenger. Developed by its subsidiary Tictoc Planet, the messenger concentrates on anonymity and the freedom to be forgotten, targeting those customers tired of existing messengers. In the system, a message disappears on both the chatting windows of the sender and the receiver 10 seconds after the latter checks it. The deleted message is not kept and thus cannot be restored. Group chat rooms are on an anonymous basis, too.
In the meantime, Tgrape released Shot.ly Messenger to let its users send messages and photos at the same time during a smartphone conversation. The enhanced photo-related functions are expected to be very popular with young people, who tend to prefer photo-based to text-based communication. The pictures and messages are removed after a certain period of time as well.
Such third-generation messengers are becoming increasingly popular in overseas markets, too. For example, the three year-old Snapchat is appealing successfully to American teenagers. Though the service is quite simple – a message and photos being deleted in 10 seconds after opening – it is spreading like wildfire among the young generation with a strong group mentality.
Although the growth is rapid, the third-generation messengers are unlikely to catch up with existing mobile messengers for a while. This is because the influence of KakaoTalk, Line, WeChat, WhatsApp and the like is still huge and their services are still much better. Under the circumstances, the number of people continuing to use the old ones while making use of the new ones as sub-messengers is expected to increase down the road. Also, much attention is being paid to what new functions and services will be added by the second-generation messengers.