I don’t think America still understands how big chat apps are in Asia and that’s ok. Like I keep saying, the US is email, iPhone (iMessage), SMS and Facebook Messenger reliant.
In Asia, it costs money to SMS. It costs money to make phone calls. Not as much as Europe maybe, but it still adds up. The US may be the only country where SMS and voice are flat fee, unlimited.
Because we are charged by telecos, chat apps have become a solution to avoid fees for something basic and ubiquitous as communication.
In Asia we are so chat app reliant, my personal and even work emails have been reduced by at least 85%. The only people who actually email are my American friends and colleagues.
Because I stopped relying on email as my main form of communication, I now see what a massive burden email is and how much of my time email dictated.
Chat apps don’t restrict texts with character counts, but because of the context of the core products (real-time interactions, short mail, instant messaging like features and functions), it cuts out a lot of unnecessary bullshit and people just get straight down to the point.
Granted, this is only from my experience and doing business with the Japanese, but I much prefer interacting with colleagues on LINE or company approved Viber as we communicate more efficiently. (Quick contextual background: the Japanese language has four different ways of speech, two honorifics. The honorifics require buffer language — a lot of set phrases before getting to the point. Chat apps tend to cut all that out.)
Aside from the communication utility, chat apps in Asia are evolving from tools to full fledged platforms. I keep repeating this but it’s almost necessary, as there are people still comparing WhatsApp, Viber, Telegram and Snapchat to LINE, WeChat and KakaoTalk. WhatsApp, Viber, Telegram and Snapchat are used for communication only. With LINE, WeChat and KakaoTalk usres can text, call, video chat, edit photos, play games, get coupons/discounts… and now WeChat allows their users to shop. In their app. Asian chat apps are more than chat apps, they are turning into ecosystems.
The Asia chat app market is truly something else but I think one has to live in China, Korea or Japan to experience the phenomenon for themselves. At least for me that was the case. In a mere six months chat apps have completely changed the way I communicate and also purchase via mobile.
God, I love technology and I love being in Asia seeing, breathing and living the evolving products and market.