WhatsApp active user numbers explode to 1bn per day

27 Jul 2017

WhatsApp. Image: Stefano Garau/Shutterstock

Internet messaging took a bit longer to catch on than many expected, but Facebook-owned entities are now dominating the market more than ever.

Last year, WhatsApp, one of the most popular instant messaging tools in the world, sported an impressive 1bn active users every month.

In the 17 months since, that figure has surged significantly, with the same number of users now active daily, and 300m users added to the monthly tally.

Future Human

Such a jump should be unheard of but, with Facebook prioritising consumer communications like no other company, perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised.

Last month, it was estimated that Facebook entities – Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram – had around 5bn active monthly users between them. WhatsApp’s announcement, though, smashes through that landmark figure.

Plenty of content

WhatsApp revealed that 4.5bn images are shared daily, 1bn videos are also shared daily, and 55bn messages, across 60 languages, are sent every 24 hours.

“As we celebrate this milestone, we’re committed more than ever to bringing you more useful features to enjoy, while delivering the reliability, simplicity and security you expect with WhatsApp. Thank you for your continued support,” said the company.

Facebook bought WhatsApp for $16bn three years ago. At the time, it was unclear what would happen to the latter, with many fearing some form of app integration, which was, at first, denied.

That changed though, with the parent company recently fined a relatively paltry $110m for misleading the European Commission (EC) when buying WhatsApp in 2014.

“The commission has found that, contrary to Facebook’s statements in the 2014 merger review process, the technical possibility of automatically matching Facebook and WhatsApp users’ identities already existed in 2014, and that Facebook staff were aware of such a possibility,” the EC said.

Cash cow

Facebook’s might is as evident as ever. The company last night (26 July) revealed second-quarter sales of $9.3bn. This is up a whopping 45pc on last year when the company reported revenues of $6.4bn.

And those sales could grow exponentially, considering the advertising possibilities that Facebook sports through its various instant messaging tools.

“Messenger has a captive audience of 1.2bn users and the company is gearing up to move faster to find ways to turn the platform into a cash cow,” wrote John Kennedy.

“It has to do this in a tasteful and careful way in order to keep users happy, but 1.2bn users is a tempting target,” he said, suggesting that the current ad testing is proof of Facebook’s intentions.

Between WhatsApp and Instagram, there’s close to 2bn active users to add on top of that, offering even more potential.

However, that potential may be more long-term, with Facebook instead focusing on its eponymous tool for advertising revenues.

“Video ads are going to be a much bigger driver of the business over the next two to three years, likely even [more] than the trajectory of what we’re doing on Messenger and WhatsApp,” said CEO Mark Zuckerberg yesterday.

Other ways to make money, though, are being investigated by the company. For example, earlier this year, WhatsApp began testing a new system that would follow the model used by Facebook Messenger by allowing companies to chat directly through the app to customers.

WhatsApp. Image: Stefano Garau/Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic