A South Korean app called Snow, which is unmistakably similar to ephemeral messaging app Snapchat, is currently exploding across Asia, illuminating the difficulties American app makers can face in engineering international expansions.
Snow, which enables users to send disappearing messages, compose sequential video stories, and even transform their appearance via live selfie filters, has been downloaded a total of 30 million times, reports The New York Times — and the majority of these downloads have taken place in Asia. While Snow features near-identical filters to Snapchat’s, including its popular puppy ears, Snow also touts a local touch, with the ability to edit bottles of Korean liquor called soju and Korean popstars onto photos, as well as Japanese-inspired sumo wrestler and sushi filters.
Snow is also becoming hugely popular in China, where it is used by many local celebrities, according to the Times, and where Snapchat is currently banned by the Chinese government. Five-year-old Snapchat does not have any offices in Asia, according to the Times, but the company is currently seeking freelancers in South Korea and Japan to help it develop versions in local languages.
Snow, which launched internationally last September, is the creation of South Korean app maker Naver, which is most famous for Line, a dominant messaging app in Japan. While Line counts roughly 218 million monthly users, its base is dwarfed by yet another massive Asian social network, China’s WeChat, which counts 762 million monthly active users, according to The Wall Street Journal.