But there’s also proof that WhatsApp is replacing texting. Thirty billion messages are sent over WhatsApp each day — 10 billion more than the global SMS system, Andreesson Horowitz partner Benedict Evans notes in a recent blog post.
According to Ofcom figures flagged up by Evans, text messaging has been in decline for years as almost every market sees a drop-off in users. Look at these figures from 2008 to 2013:
Meanwhile, WhatsApp’s growth has been meteoric: it gained 100 million users in the last 4 months alone:
One service that can’t be quantified so easily is Apple’s in-house iMessage, which Evans refers to as “dark matter” because Apple guards its usage statistics closely. Evans notes: “It’s probably big, with over 400 million iPhones in use today, but we don’t know how big.”
WhatsApp may continue to outpace SMS, but Evans argues that because of the divergent purposes of messaging apps it may not be the overall “winner” in this category.
But talking about winners per se also seems like it may be the wrong conversation — people use several of these at once for different purposes. WhatsApp may win ‘text chat’ but that’s not quite what Instagram is about. After all, your smartphone comes with three social networks out of the box, voice, SMS and email, and you use them all. Are you really going to add only one more? So something else may displace WhatsApp in the UK or India for text chat, but it’s more likely that there will be more Snapchats that carve out a slice of time by doing something different.