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Taiwan is Facebook's ace in the hole in Asia

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But LINE has got a line on them and Facebook may face some stiff competition.

The Asian island of Taiwan is no doubt wired for mobile. Much like Japan, the mobile phone is just something everyone carries around and, among the younger crowd; Facebook messaging has pretty much replaced mobile phone texting. In Taiwan, local developers readily work with Facebook to develop mobile apps and personalized marketing is progressing. Unlike Japan, Facebook has “one of the highest penetration rates [in Taiwan] for FB users against the population” in Asia. This is according to a report made by Forbes on March 19.

According to research firm Gartner, Facebook’s top markets are the United States, Brazil and India, respectively; but Taiwan is Facebook’s ace in the hole, in Asia. Unlike other Asian countries, Taiwan currently lacks a serious rival to Facebook. The only competitor, Yahoo’s Wretch, closed its doors last year. “In Taiwan you can see a lot of familiar people on Facebook,” says restaurant review app developer, Sean Chen, in Taipei. “There is no other local company in this market now and Facebook is the biggest one from a foreign country.”

Facebook calls mobile a top priority when it comes to apps in Asia. “As we look into 2014 and beyond, we are seeing that the industry is shifting back to a more personal way of marketing and it represents one of the biggest shifts in marketing in generations,” says Jayne Leung, Facebook greater China head. “Facebook, which is built around people and the things they care about, is uniquely positioned to lead this shift.”

However, Facebook is losing some face in Taiwan to LINE, a Japanese-designed mobile app. The 3-year-old LINE offers free conferencing, calls, chats and data uploads. As of November, LINE became the biggest social network in Japan with 300 million users. And already in Taipei, people are as likely to say, “LINE that to me” as “Facebook me.” But then again, Facebook’s purchase of WhatsApp in February could keep it competitive. “LINE, the social messaging app, is doing extremely well in Taiwan,” says Shalini Verma, analyst with Gartner in Australia. “Facebook should try to align its newly acquired WhatsApp with the needs of the Taiwanese. Maybe they need help from Rochester SEO.

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