Snow, the Asian Snapchat clone Facebook tried to buy, claims 40-50M monthly users

Asian Snapchat clone Snow caught the attention of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who tried unsuccessfully to buy it last year, and it is continuing to grow steadily. The app’s Korean parent Naver today confirmed it crossed 100 million downloads in December, with 40-50 percent of its user base active on the app each month.

Those are pretty impressive figures for a one-year-old project, but still some way behind Snapchat (the U.S. company, tipped to go public in a $4 billion IPO, has 150 million daily active users). Snow has targeted very different geographies to its rival, though. China is the largest market in terms of users, with Japan and Korea following respectively, although the company did not disclose raw figures for its user base in these countries.

Those official figures are on par with data we reported from October, when a source told us that Snow had surpassed 80 million downloads and was adding 10 million per month. Back in July, The New York Times reported that the app was at around 30 million downloads.

snow appannie

App Annie data shows Snow’s popularity in Japan, Korea and Hong Kong (China figures unavailable)

Like many other Western services, Snapchat is blocked in China. Snow, which mimics the U.S.-based app but with many more options for face filters and stickers, has stepped up to fill the gap in some ways, but it is still just scratching surface. The Chinese government estimates there are more than 700 million internet users in the country, so even the most optimistic figures for Snow in China — say, for example, that half of those 100 million downloads are from the country — would represent a mere drop in the ocean.

But, there’s doubtless potential there. Naver saw fit to reject Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s advances because it believes it has a hit on its hands. Chat app LINE, Naver’s biggest success to date, raised more than $1 billion in a dual Japan-U.S. IPO in July, and the firm sees similar possibilities for Snow. Indeed, Naver strengthened ties between the two services in September when LINE made a $45 million investment in Snow at a $180 million valuation. You’d suspect that latter figure has gone up a few notches in the months that have passed.


Three of the many filters available on Snow