Snapchat's rival in Asia, called Snow, has soared to near or No. 1 in downloads in Japan, South Korea and Singapore as it expands its audience in a region that U.S. photo messaging app Snapchat has struggled to enter, according to Bloomberg. The South Korean unicorn attracts users by offering 400 live-motion filters allowing users to do all kinds of wacky things, compared to only 12 motion filters offered by Snapchat. (See also, Snapchat's IPO Could Affect Other Unicorn's Riches.)

Cornering the Asia Market

After seeing that Snapchat was faltering in penetrating the Asia market, Snow's founders, who consist of a group of engineers at internet company Naver Corp, saw an opening. They launched Snow last year to see if Snow could outdo Snapchat. 

Based on data provided by App Annie, the Snow app has attracted more than 80 million downloads, making it near or at No. 1 for iOS and Android phones this year in Japan, Singapore and South Korea," reported Bloomberg. It is also among the top 100 downloads on major third-party Chinese app markets. 

Monetizing Snow

Parent company Naver has yet to monetize the app the way they have with their messaging platform Line Corp. (LN), which raised over $1.1 billion from its dual Tokyo and New York listing this past July, reported tech news site TechCruch. Snow may be next. (See also, Line Messaging App Seeks $1.3 Billion for IPO.)

In the meantime, Facebook Inc. (FB), Tencent Holdings Ltd and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (BABA) have all expressed interest in Snow, but the company wants to continue to operate independently.

Fending Off Rivals

Snow's success has attracted new rivals including Faceu, a face recognition camera app owned by Shenzhen Lianmeng Technology Co. and Pitu, an automatic make-up and motion sticker app owned by Tencent.

Some experts are speculating whether Snow will enter the U.S. market and take on Snapchat directly. "Right now, Snow is more of a camera app than a messaging platform and having just that one function may be insufficient," Park Jung-hoon, associate consulting director at Kantar TNS, a data-consulting unit of Kantar Group Ltd., told Bloomberg. "The fad may end soon unless it widens its business."

In late September, TechCrunch reported that Line invested $45 million in Snow. But the Asian startup may need a lot more money if it decides to invade Snapchat's U.S. turf.



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