Despite Facebook’s current lead in Southeast Asia, the real question is: how long will it last?

With smartphone usage growing in Southeast Asia, it’s safe to say that people are now growing more dependent on mobile apps. Of all apps,, Facebook and other chat apps rank among the most-used in the region. This is according to Nielsen’s recent report on the top 10 smartphone apps in Southeast Asia.

In the month of July, Nielsen examined an app’s “level of engagement” by devising a formula that merges an app’s market penetration with its average-time-spent-per-user. The study was conducted in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.

The study revealed that Facebook ranked as the “most engaging app” in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philipines. In Thailand, it ranked number two.

Facebook’s high level of engagement doesn’t come as a big surprise. In Southeast Asia, Facebook’s user-base has already grown to around 140 million users.

But despite its continued, success, the relatively high-level of engagement attained by increasingly popular messaging apps begs the question: can Facebook keep it up?

Southeast Asia’s messaging war

Signaling this change in trends is the Thai market, where Japan’s chat app Line ranked as the most engaging app according to Nielsen. Given Line’s aggressive expansion some might point to this ranking as proof that the Japanese platform has potential to unseat Facebook(NASDAQ:FB) or WhatsApp in other markets. Meanwhile, WeChat, the messaging app owned by China’s Tencent, ranked as the eighth most engaging app in the country.

In the other three markets, even though Facebook still led in engagement, three other chat apps are each also present in country’s top ten. In Malaysia, WhatsApp and WeChat ranked second and third, respectively, while Viber sits at the ninth spot. In Indonesia, WhatsApp, Line and WeChat, ranked third, fourth and fifth, respectively. In the Philippines, Viber, Line and WeChat are in the fifth, sixth and seventh spots.

Yes, Facebook remains strong. But as we pointed out earlier, new social media platforms will emergesooner or later, placing pressure on the social media giant.

Theo Techinasia.