4.2b people send mobile messages every month

The combined user base of the top messaging apps increased by over 1 billion between 2014 and 2015

“I just texted to say I love you…” doesn’t have the same ring to it, but nobody seems to mind as long as the message gets through.

More than half the world – or 4.2 billion monthly users – now use messaging apps to communicate, according to new data for 2015.

Research firm IHS says the number is up 38 per cent from the 3.1 billion sending text messages each month in the previous year. However, given the size of the world’s population, that overall growth rate is slowing.

Top message apps

“Facebook and Tencent dominate the global messaging app user base, accounting for over 70 per cent of total selected messaging apps,” says Jun Wen Woo, IHS Analyst for Mobile & Broadband Media, in the organisation’s Mobile Messaging Market Monitor. “Both companies have grown their lead over other messaging apps since 2011.”

In the IHS schematic, Facebook covers both WhatsApp and Messenger while Tencent includes WeChat and QQ.

Woo says Facebook Messenger is now beginning to match WeChat as a platform for services beyond messaging by introducing features such as payments, video calling and transportation into its app.

However, the rising number of monthly users hasn’t translated into greater investor interest. Investor interest in social and communications apps slowed down in 2015, Woo says. Total disclosed funding value for social and communications apps decreased by 7.15 per cent on a year-on-year basis.

Blackberry, Snapchat et al

Elsewhere, market disruptor Snapchat continues to innovate to attract the youth audience. “Instead of driving incremental revenues through paid features, Snapchat will focus on advertising, including sponsored lenses and branded content,” Woo says.

Blackberry remains a contender – particularly here in the Middle East. There are 42 million registered users in the Middle East, and 70 per cent of the monthly active users in the region are active each day,” Woo says. Other Blackberry-active regions are South Africa and Indonesia.

“BBM’s particular success in Indonesia prompted it to launch its mobile payment service BBM Money there,” Woo says. “Blackberry’s growth strategy will be focused on these three areas.”

In other markets, regional apps may be headed to the graveyard. South Korea’s KakaoTalk is struggling to increase its number of monthly active users and international expansion remains challenging. Domestic dominance has not translated to international success, Woo says.