Taipei, Dec. 20 (CNA) Taiwan Mobile Co., the country's second-largest mobile provider, released a new version of its messaging service app Thursday to challenge products such as WhatsApp of the United States and Line of South Korea.
Taiwan Mobile's "M+ Messenger" was launched in August and hit the 1 million download mark within three weeks, ranking as the top free app in Apple Inc.'s App Store and Google Inc.'s Google Play, the carrier said.
The messaging service now has 2 million users and the number is expected to exceed 4 million before the Lunar New Year in February, said Jeff Ku, deputy chief operating officer of Taiwan Mobile's consumer business group.
"We expect our company to become more than a telecom operator and we are targeting the trend of digital convergence," Ku said at a news conference to mark the launch.
M+ Messenger allows users to purchase coupons online and send them to friends as gifts, which can be used in nearly 8,000 local retail stores and restaurants that are in partnership with Taiwan Mobile, Ku said.
A survey in October by Taiwanese technology website APP01 found that 67 percent of smartphone owners in Taiwan use Line app, and 17 percent use WhatsApp.
M+ Messenger is still not the first choice despite its "pretty good" download record and word of mouth promotion, according to the online survey of 100,000 smartphone users.
Meanwhile, the number of Line app users worldwide had exceeded 80 million as of Nov. 30, said South Korea's NHN Corp., which launched the app in July 2011.
WhatsApp, launched in May 2009, has not announced the number of its users. Google Play store indicates that the Android version of WhatsApp may have more than 100 million daily active users, according to technology media TechCrunch.
(By Jeffrey Wu)