Spark

Why messaging is eating the world

Because apps!
Listen10:40

We've been talking about the boom in messaging apps for a while now on Spark. There's WhatsApp, Snapchat, Line, Jott, Viber, WeChat...the list goes on. People all over the world love messaging apps! And so far that's mostly because they're a more affordable alternative to SMS text messaging.

But is that the whole story?

You don't have to look hard to see the impact the messaging app boom has made in the business sector. Last fall, Canadian messaging app Kik, became a so-called "Unicorn" - the term for a startup with a billion dollar or greater valuation.

And recently, the wildly popular Japanese messaging app Line announced plans for an initial public offering on both the Tokyo and New York stock exchanges. They're hoping to raise a whopping $1 billion US, which would make the company worth over $5 billion US.

So what's the deal here? How do these companies that offer super-cheap or free text and voice messaging, manage to be worth billions of dollars? Why is there so much buzz (and money) in these services?

Venture capitalist Edith Yeung has thought a lot about the phenomenon, which she's characterized as "Messaging is eating the world." She explains how in in the Asia-Pacific market, people use messaging apps for more than simple texting: things like buying concert tickets, paying electricity bills, dating, and building a credit score. And that could mean big changes to how you communicate in the future.

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