We’ve covered the cutthroat chat application war in the Japanese market in a recent post, illustrating how NHN Japan’s Line leads the game so far, with DeNA’s Comm and KakaoTalk as distant runners-up. As if there weren’t enough chat apps already, CyberAgent (TYO:4751) just launched yet another player, but this one has a slightly different angle.
Decolink (yes, it’s another Deco-something app!) is CyberAgent’s newly minted application for iOS and Android, which is aming to snag teenage girls as its target users. The app lets you chat with a maximum of 100 friends, and you can also change the background image and fonts for different chat windows. This latter ability to customize the look of a product is essential when the primarily target market is younger girls.
What’s even more essential perhaps are the decorative stamps, of which Decolink provides over 10,000. Stamps are often cited as the major reason behind Line’s huge success so far. Sort of like emoji on steriods, people often use stamps in chat to express themselves instead of using text. In much the same way that a Facebook Like is a sort of mindless response that doesn’t require any words, stamps are often used in the same way among many Japanese users.
CyberAgent does have a competitive advantage, as the company runs the huge Ameba Blog platform which had more than 20 million users as of January 2012. The platform is widely used by Japanese people including celebrities. Through cross-promotions with other products under the Ameba umbrella, Decolink might be able to eclipse some of the other chat app competitors — although it’s unlikely that it could catch Line.
Decolink was developed by a team within CyberAgent that creates products dedicated for teens. I have to wonder if these cute, more feminine stamps are a key differeciator from Line, and if any teenage girls will take the bait. We’ll find out sooner or later, so stay tuned.