Technology Media & Telecom Q-Series: Evolution or revolution: what's next for mobile messengers?

Mobile messengers have become powerful aggregating internet platforms in China, Korea and Japan, where regulation and market structure allowed dominant names to emerge.

11 Mar 2020

Mobile messengers have become powerful aggregating internet platforms in China, Korea and Japan, where regulation and market structure have allowed dominant names to emerge. But can this be replicated in other markets in Asia and elsewhere for 3.2bn mobile messenger users? UBS analysts in nine countries and across 12 markets analysed UBS Evidence Lab data to assess the roadmap to a potential US$136bn global market.

More than just a messenger – is this the future of global internet?

Global mass adoption of smartphones and operating-system user interfaces has resulted in a proliferation of apps, with each app providing a different internet service vertical. Increasingly  we believe that user behaviour is shifting from a multitude of relatively open-ended platforms to more closed-ended platforms that offer increased privacy, direct communication and user  convenience. Among the plethora of apps, certain internet apps are developing into ecosystems  and platforms. We believe there are a number of different paths that this evolution could take. UBS analysts in nine countries and across 12 markets analysed UBS Evidence Lab data to assess the roadmap to a potential US$136bn global market.

UBS Evidence Lab surveyed 5,000 global mobile messenger users

A new UBS Evidence Lab survey (+5,000 respondents) across the US, China, Japan, the UK and Korea shows mobile messengers dominating customer app usage. Outside Asia, the platform expansion of major players has been driven via a portal/search ecosystem, not a single super app, and they have been slower to monetise the similarly dominant positions of key messenger apps, so far.

We built four global scenarios to assess market potential by 2024

Through analyzing case studies for organic/inorganic expansion and monetisation in markets with strong incumbent competition: the next opportunities are fintech, content and e-commerce. As a result, and because the internet sector is fast-changing and regulation is a constant global challenge, we built four global scenarios to assess market potential by 2024, suggesting market revenue of US$22-136bn (2019: US$30bn).

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