Mobile messaging application developer WhatsApp Inc says Indonesia is one of its primary markets globally in terms of size and growth.
Brian Acton and Jan Koum, who cofounded the cross-platform mobile messaging tool in 2009, say the company is seeking to retain its presence in the highly competitive market by keeping its product “clean and simple”.
“It is one of the top 10 markets in terms of absolute size and one of the top five fastest growing markets for us,” Acton told The Jakarta Post in an e-mail interview.
Although he was unable to provide country-specific active user numbers, Acton pointed out that in Indonesia, WhatsApp has become the most downloaded app across popular mobile platforms.
“WhatsApp is the number one paid app on the iPhone, number two free app on Android and the number two free app on BlackBerry AppWorld,” he said.
WhatsApp is now faced with tight competition as Chinese and Korean-based mobile messaging applications, namely WeChat, Line and KakaoTalk, are aggressively campaigning in the Indonesian market, partly by emphasizing the provision of “cute stickers” on their apps.
In response, Acton said WhatsApp would also “continue to improve the speed, reliability and richness of our application”.
“We have put in a lot of effort to translate our product to Bahasa Indonesia,” he said.
WhatsApp has amassed more than 250 million monthly active users worldwide and processes 20 billion messages daily — 8 billion of which are inbound messages, with the remaining 12 billion being outbound.
Neeraj Arora, spokesman of WhatsApp Inc., added WhatsApp handled 27 billion messages globally per day. “That is 10 billion messages going in and 17 billion going out.”
He pointed out that, given the figures, Indonesia had “one of the heaviest volumes of messages processed per day in Southeast Asia”.
“People use the app multiple times per day,” Arora noted.
He added WhatsApp saw high rates of usage in the country because “Indonesia is a very social market”, with the people being “more chatty than those in other countries”.
Arora said WhatsApp intended to keep their services for free on platforms such as BlackBerry and Android, not only to ensure new user acquisition, but also to retain current users.
“We also want to make sure that good payment systems exist first, either through carrier billing or credit card payments, before charging,” he said.
However, credit card ownership remains low, with only 15 million credit cards in circulation among 230 million Indonesians, according to Indonesian Credit Card Association (AKKI) statistics.
Arora added WhatsApp expected usage volume to climb upward as more people acquired smartphones — already a primary tool for Internet connection.
“If you look at what is happening in the market, a lot of people are buying smartphones and using data services to access WhatsApp,” Arora said.
A report prepared by Accenture on digital life in Indonesia estimates that the domestic smartphone market share would expand to 42 percent of the total mobile phone market by 2016 from a third in 2011, as the affordability of these devices increases.
Considering the reliance of the mobile messaging service on mobile data availability, Arora pointed out that they would continue collaborating with mobile phone operators to create data plans around the app.
The big three mobile operators, PT Telekomunikasi Selular (Telkomsel), PT Indosat (ISAT), and PT XL Axiata (EXCL), are already in collaboration with the over the top (OTT) player, which provides services without a system operator being involved in the control or distribution of the services.(Mariel Grazella; The Jakarta Post)