Asian messaging apps make dollars per user, American apps make cents
There is no shortage of messaging apps in the world, and usually we judge the success of a messaging app by the number of active users. For example, WhatsApp is generally seen as the king, because it has 900 million monthly active users. But, new data shows that even if we don't change how we look at it, the companies behind messaging apps may soon start focusing more on how much revenue they can generate per user.
At least, that is undoubtedly how American messaging apps are looking at it. According to data presented by Activate at the WSJD Live conference Tuesday, China's WeChat generates an average revenue per user of $7, KakaoTalk nets $4.24, and Line earns $3.16. For comparison, WhatsApp earns 6 cents per users (despite theoretically charging 99 cents per year for the service), Viber earns 1 cent per user, and Facebook Messenger doesn’t generate any revenue at all. This means that while WeChat is generating about $4.2 billion from its 600 million active users and Line gets about $632 million from its 200 million users, WhatsApp is generating only about $54 million from its 900 million active users.
The big difference is while WhatsApp has a yearly fee, Asian apps like Line and WeChat sell stickers, apps, and games on top of the messaging services. Facebook Messenger tried to sell stickers, but we just checked and it looks like all of the sticker packs are now free. Facebook also has a long list of apps that integrate, but none are sold by Facebook.
Activate also called messaging the "fastest-growing digital vehicle ever," and it still has plenty of room to grow. According to Activate, messaging apps will add 1.1 billion new users by 2018, helped by about 579 million untapped users in the Middle East and Africa, and 265 million in Asia.