For Iranian developers, competition is a big obstacle when it comes to building a popular messaging app. Here are 6 reasons why fledgling Iranian messaging apps are having trouble to grab shares in this evolving market.

In a market with 40 million Telegram users, you don’t ask “who’s winning?”, instead, you would ask “what’s going to change so others would be able to take part in this game?”. Like it or not, Telegram, a Russian app known for its encryption protocol is dominating the Iranian market. Telegram filled the gap in the Iranian market when messaging apps such as WeChat, Line and Viber failed to keep up with the user needs or got blocked in the country. With its easy to use features, Telegram later revealed its winning card and pushed the rivals aside. Now, if an international player with enough experience in different regions isn’t able to keep up in the Iranian market, how do you expect to see the growth and the popularity of juvenile Iranian apps?

Each of these so called issues or challenges could lead Iranian messaging apps into a vicious cycle which won’t allow them to survive in this market. Let’s take a look at them.

1. Quality

If you want to be able to compete in a fast-paced market, you’ve got to keep up with the international standards. You don’t have to be original all the time, but you can be a good copycat. Iranian messaging apps are still lacking an intuitive UI design and suffer bad UX.

2. Reliability

These days we don’t have time for an app which is slow, has delays after commands or just feels unreliable for important tasks. Heck, I personally don’t expect much from my mobile internet network, but I expect reliability from a well-developed messaging app to be able to send my texts even with a poor connection.

3. Expenses

Disrupting a market which is already disrupted is hard. To be able to compete in this market, your app needs to be developed for different platforms ($), should have all the features that the rivals have — including video/voice calls, sending different file formats— ($$) and should be able to grow a huge user base ($$$). That means huge development, server and marketing costs. And that is the other issue for Iranian apps. They start the project and can’t keep up with the expenses.

4. Revenue

When the expenses are high and you still haven’t found the right business model for this market to monetize your app, you’re in trouble! You can keep up for a few months, but when you can’t expand and grow, after some time you’re doomed to fail.

5. Trustworthiness

One of the main reasons that Telegram became popular is its encryption scheme. There have been many disputes between the Iranian government and Telegram founder, Pavel Durov when the government asked them to move their servers to Iran for the safety of users’ data and reducing bandwidth costs. Of course Telegram rejected this request, and these days what people assume is that this app is trustworthy. Does this apply to Iranian messaging apps too? If the answer is YES, then these companies should seriously work on their image in the public and resolve people’s concerns about safety and being trustworthy.

6. Government grants

When was the last time that you heard an app was fully raised from the ground up with a grant from the government? Of course, receiving support from the government also has pros next to cons, but a “startup” which is heavily leaning on the shoulders of the government doesn’t have much chances to thrive.

Early 2017, Iran’s Vice Presidency for Science and Technology announced that the government will give out grants to eligible local messaging app companies with a considerable number of users. Since then, no Iranian app has been able to find a considerable amount of user base even with these incentives.


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Last words: Being basic, means being average. And companies with average criteria don’t have any chances of survival in a fierce market. This brings us to the question which we raised in the beginning of the article. What’s going to change so others would be able to take part in this game?

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