Asian Facebook 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 userbase active on the app each month.
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 the July, The New York Times reported that the app was at around 30 million downloads.
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 that there are over 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 over $1 billion in a dual Japan-U.S. IPO in July of this year, 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.