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eMarketer Releases Latest Estimates for Worldwide Messaging App Usage

The number of mobile messaging app users worldwide is still growing at a significant rate

July 21, 2017

The appeal of mobile messaging apps continues to spread. eMarketer projects that 1.82 billion people across the globe will use apps like Facebook Messenger and WeChat in 2017, an increase of 15.5% year over year.

In absolute figures, an additional 243 million mobile phone users worldwide will start using mobile messaging apps this year, according to eMarketer’s updated forecast. Through at least 2020, this growth will be widespread, occurring in each of the 22 countries included in the estimates.

Mobile Phone Messaging App Users Worldwide, 2016-2021 (billions and % change)

“A mobile messaging app provides private one-to-one or one-to-many communication between registered users, via a mobile phone number or user ID. Its messages and calls—voice or video—are then transmitted via data connections and the mobile web,” said Cathy Boyle, eMarketer principal analyst and author of our latest report, “Messaging App Usage Worldwide: eMarketer’s Updated Forecast, Leaderboard and Behavioral Analysis.”

Subscribers to eMarketer PRO can access the report here. Nonsubscribers can purchase the report here.

While the attraction to mobile messaging apps is a global phenomenon, the bulk of this year’s new users (63%) will come from five countries—China, India, the US, Indonesia and Brazil. Additionally, these five countries will be home to the largest number of mobile messaging app users in total, which is unsurprising considering that they also have the five largest populations in the world.

On a regional basis, the messaging landscape has changed considerably over the past four years. Now, a majority of mobile phone internet users in Asia-Pacific, Latin America, Europe and North America use mobile messaging apps. Four years ago, this was not the case in either Central and Eastern Europe or North America.

The Middle East and Africa is the only region where mobile messaging users are in the minority. Just 22.7% of mobile phone internet users in this region are expected to use chat apps in 2017, which is up considerably from 16.3% in 2014, but still far below the other regions—and the worldwide average of 66.5%.

In the latest episode of "Behind the Numbers," Cathy Boyle discusses the use of messaging apps around the world.


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