The social media phenomena, Facebook, was recently ousted from the top spot of number of daily message traffic. Now WhatsApp has nearly doubled Facebook’s traffic and reportedly sending more than 20 billion messages per day from over a staggering 400 million monthly users.
WhatsApp’s rapid growth helped the company score their first 100 million users in a little more than a year and a half. Previous to Thursday’s announcement, WhatsApp had recently announced 350 million active monthly users only two short months ago. Two former Yahoo! employees, Brian Acton and Jan Koum, created and launched the cross-platform app back in 2009.
Acton and Koum’s app is available on Android, iPhone, Windows, Nokia and Blackberry platforms. WhatsApp allow its users to send audio, video, and text messages to any other subscribers. Recently updated stats say that users now average sending 500 million pictures, receive 32 billion, and send 16 billion messages per day.
The app may be more worrisome for cell carriers as it doesn’t use SMS services which currently provide revenue to the carriers. WhatsApp is swaying users to move away from SMS services to download a copy of their app for free. Users with strong internet connections won’t incur carrier roaming charges when sending messages with the app. After the first year of using the app, users are required to pay a yearly fee of $0.99 to continue using WhatsApp.
Other than ousting Facebook from the top spot, WhatsApp has other big competitors that are expanding just as fast. Canadian messaging service Kik now reports 100 million users, and South Korea’s KakaoTalk claims 110 million users. China’s WeChat is next in size with 270 million monthly active accounts, and Japanese firm, LINE, has 300 million users monthly.
LINE has also reported having incredible success in India, Spain and Japan. Their rapid growth came through expensive TV advertising campaigns. In 2014, LINE is expected to reach $30 billion with their IPO in Tokyo. They are also expected to raise $1 billion in revenue next year.
WhatsApp raised $8 million from investor, Sequoia Capital, in early 2011 and has appeared to have not needed nor raised any other funding from venture capitalists since. Koum recently voiced a cranky tone in blog posts when he was talking about other messaging apps that have to rely on the revenue generated from annoying banner ads and other distractions or promotions.
Koum and Acton have only 50 employees to support as their WhatsApp staff, most of them are engineers. Koum said that their focus is on all their users, their loved ones, their co-workers, and their friends and they just love to hear their stories of sharing.
Facebook is worried about their spot in the messaging world, they have been said to have offered competitor, Snapchat, a reported $3 billion to purchase the teen’s top choice in social network messaging. Snapchat reports 400 million photos are received daily by their users. Even with the impressive numbers that WhatsApp boasts, their presence in the U.S. is still considered small. However, WhatsApp’s rapid growth has all been organic and the company boasts that they have not spent $1 on marketing nor advertising.
By Brent Matsalla