December 20, 2013
WhatsApp Tops 400M Active Users Per Month, Bests Twitter’s 230M
Enid Burns for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Global messaging service WhatsApp released stats this week stating the company has reached over 400 million monthly active users worldwide. The volume, company co-founder and CEO Jan Koum noted, surpasses other similar mobile messaging services. Koum detailed the company's volume milestone on the WhatsApp blog.
While WhatsApp reached the 400 million monthly active user milestone before the end of 2013, it adds 25 percent of those active users have been added within the last four months. Koum attributes the growth to the users, rather than the company, which includes roughly 50 employees.
"We’re proud to announce that because of you, WhatsApp has reached a milestone that no other mobile messaging service has achieved: 400 million monthly active users, with 100 million active users added in the last four months alone. This isn’t a count of people who just registered for WhatsApp – it’s the number of people who are actively using the service every single month," Koum wrote in the blog post.
Perhaps confirming the company's growing active user base is the number of messages sent over the app. WhatsApp in June announced it had reached a record 27 billion messages sent in one day.
WhatsApp serves as an alternative to text messaging plans provided by cell phone carriers. Messages are sent worldwide, and WhatsApp charges users one dollar per year for unlimited texts. WhatsApp competes with alternative messaging apps such as Snapchat, Viber, Kik, LINE, MessageMe, Tellit, iMessage and Facebook Messenger.
It is not common for these companies to release statistics detailing how many consumers use the service each month.
"Users of messaging apps can be fickle -- it's quite easy to switch to a new one once your current favorite loses its luster. But for now at least, WhatsApp is still rapidly growing," TheVerge's Casey Newton wrote.
Though users tend to jump around to multiple apps, once friends build a contact list of other users of the app, such as WhatsApp, those users may find it convenient to stay where their friends are. This is the stickiness that messaging services such as WhatsApp hope to build, in order to retain users.
The Twitter platform sends messages over the Internet, rather than using cellular services that standard text messaging plans from mobile carriers offer. "It's particularly popular overseas where carriers typically charge users for every text message sent," wrote Business Insider's Ryan Bushey.
The 400 million mark is as significant as the fact WhatsApp is releasing such information, Bushey writes. "While companies like Snapchat have remained silent about how many active users they have, WhatsApp is one of the few that are openly sharing how many people are truly using the service."
Some messaging apps, on occasion, have released stats.
Kik Interactive said it reached 100 million users, AllThingsD reports, though it is not specifying whether those are registered users or active users. Last month LINE said it had 300 million users.
"In both cases, the companies declined to say how many were active users — I know because I asked them, and declined to write up the stories when they said no," wrote AllThingsD's Liz Gannes.
WhatsApp has been adopted across the board as a service to send text and multimedia messages. However there are a handful of instances Koum pointed out where there are some practical, and even lifesaving instances of using the service.
One of the more practical examples of where the messaging service stands out is its ability to cross geographical borders, where text messaging is often not possible or costly.
"There was the woman from New Zealand who moved to South Africa to complete her PhD. The week before she left to go back home, she met the man of her dreams. Despite living thousands of miles apart, she told us that WhatsApp has allowed them to feel closer than ever," Koum wrote.
As well, WhatsApp has instances where the service is used to help charitable efforts in third world countries.
"We also heard from a British woman who runs a charity in Uganda. She told us that her team on the ground uses WhatsApp to send daily reports, photos, and videos of the children they’re helping, which she shares to build support for her organization all over the world," Koum wrote.
There are also cases where doctors are using the service to send vital information and images, as well as help with rescue efforts.
"Doctors in India are using WhatsApp to instantly send electrocardiogram pictures of patients who’ve suffered heart attacks, saving valuable time and potentially lives. In the mountains of Madrid, rescuers used WhatsApp to locate and save lost hikers. And today, as I follow the unfolding political crisis in Ukraine, the place where I was born and lived until the age of sixteen, I can’t help but hope that the next great WhatsApp story will be about people using the service to speak their mind and stand up for their basic rights," Koum wrote.