If I may put it this way, in the disguise of messaging apps, they are actually platforms for shopping, financial services, payments, stickers, celebrity cameos, and much more.
Unlike Whatsapp, most of the prominent messaging apps have some or the other form of revenue models. Whatsapp limited its service to simple communication features, and that made the app more appealing to some users. But this strategy has also limited the company’s ability to make money, despite having 450 million monthly active users. The app’s revenue stood at $20 million last year. With Facebook acquiring it, WhatsApp could get more time to come up with a long-term business model as the app tries to further expand its user base.
Lets see how are other messaging apps making money:
Line has three major sources of revenue: free-to-play video games that make money from in-game purchases of virtual items and other services; “stickers” featuring cartoon characters that users buy and send as messages; and official accounts for businesses and celebrities who pay fees to send a set number of promotional messages. Last month, Line said its revenue for the fourth quarter of 2013 rose more than fivefold to 12.2 billion yen ($120 million) from 2.2 billion yen a year earlier. It is also looking into other services such as e-commerce and music distribution as possible ways to earn revenue from its messaging platform.
Kakao Talk, which is dominant in South Korea, also uses methods that are similar to Line’s to make money.
WeChat last year added an electronic payment feature to the popular app — a step toward making money with small handling fees for transactions made through the app. Like Line, WeChat uses video games to generate some of its revenue.