Jan Koum’s texting app is used by 450 million people but was barely known in its birthplace, the U.S., until Facebook snapped it up for $19 billion in February. What other apps are huge in parts of the world? These four have become dominant in the world’s biggest mobile market, China, where more than 700 million use smartphones. (Not all apps use the same matrix to count users.)
355 MILLION USERS
China’s version of WhatsApp, developed by Tencent Holdings, is much more versatile, with text and voice messaging, Skype, walkie-talkie, group chat, and services like Facebook, Twitter and PayPal, all accessed with a few easy clicks. Businesses and celebrities use it to send updates and ads to followers, making it compete with Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter. WeChat’s fourth-quarter revenue for 2013 was between $30 million and $50 million–the first time Tencent revealed such figures, in an industry where earnings information is often closely guarded.
320 MILLION MOBILE DOWNLOADS
Chinese girls tend to be obsessed with smooth white skin, big eyes, thin faces and pointy chins. This selfie-friendly app gives them all that for free (in pictures). It reduces photo editing to a few clicks like “Freckle and Pimple Removal” or “Enlarge Eyes.”
110 MILLION USERS
Lets you chat with other users nearby, whose pictures and news feeds can be seen by anyone. You can join interest groups, but most connections are stranger-to-stranger, and men don’t shy from asking women out with it. Nickname: “Magic Weapon for Finding Hookups.”
130 MILLION USERS
Transports karaoke from a bar or the shower into your phone. Sing free or purchased popular songs (lyrics provided), get instant ratings and share with friends. Chinese pop stars use it to interact with fans, and would-be stars to build a portfolio and fan base. In 2013 Chang Ba says it brought in just under $1.6 million.