The rise of smartphone messaging apps has happened so quickly, it has hardly given us time to process just how huge they are.
But their size and importance becomes clear once we compare them side-by-side with social networks.
BI Intelligence charted the growth in users of four major messaging apps (WeChat, WhatsApp, LINE, and Facebook Messenger), and four global social networks (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn).
The chart makes clear that at current growth rates, messaging apps are on track to overtake social networks in number of users. It’s likely to happen sometime later this year, according to our estimates, based on current growth trends.
The chart and data above are from a new in-depth report from BI Intelligence, which takes a deep, granular dive into the messaging wars with exclusive estimates for monthly active users for all the top global messaging platforms — including some like Snapchat and LINE, which do not release MAU numbers.
Here are some of our other findings:
- Between March 2013 and March 2014, the messaging app market exploded. The top seven messaging apps expanded by 148%, adding 900 million users.
- WhatsApp blew past all the messaging app competition in mid-2013 and never looked back. By February of this year, WhatsApp already had 100 million more monthly active users than its nearest competitor, China-based WeChat.
- Facebook Messenger is still a laggard. It is several times smaller than the top three messaging apps. Despite its global footprint and deep integration with Facebook, it’s smaller than Japan-based LINE, which is most popular in East and Southeast Asia and a handful of other countries.
- Snapchat is huge. The photo- and video-centric app, which only recently incorporated video calls, is running neck-and-neck with messaging and voice calling app, Tango.
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