Messaging App Usage Worldwide: eMarketer's Updated Forecast, Leaderboard and Behavioral Analysis - eMarketer
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Messaging App Usage Worldwide: eMarketer's Updated Forecast, Leaderboard and Behavioral Analysis

eMarketer Report

By: eMarketer

Published: July 20, 2017

Jump to: Executive Summary | Table of Contents | List of Charts

Executive Summary

Mobile messaging app usage is expected to hit a milestone in 2017: For the first time, over three-quarters (76.3%) of the world’s smartphone users will use one. While local standouts like WeChat and Line dominate in their home countries and a handful of other markets, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are the most widely used platforms worldwide.

  • A mobile messaging app provides private one-to-one or one-to-many communication between registered users (via mobile phone number or user ID). Its messages and calls—voice or video—are then transmitted via data connections and the mobile web.
  • The number of mobile messaging app users worldwide is still growing at a significant rate, even after three years of double-digit growth. eMarketer expects growth will drop to single-digit rates in 2019, as penetration among smartphone users nears 80%.
  • This year, the bulk of new users (63%) will come from five countries—China, India, the US, Indonesia and Brazil.
  • More mobile phone internet users in Asia-Pacific will use messaging apps in 2017 than in any other region—75.9%. Western Europe and Latin America will rank second and third, at 65.6% and 64.1%, respectively.
  • On a global scale, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are the most widely used messaging apps in terms of monthly active users (MAUs). WhatsApp tends to be used more frequently than Messenger—but not more often than WeChat is used in China. WeChat has the highest ratio of daily active users (DAUs) to MAUs vs. the other leading apps.
  • Even though many of the leading messaging apps have evolved into sophisticated platforms with functions enabling more than direct messaging, the top activities conducted by users are still centered around the apps’ primary purpose—communication. Text-based messaging is still the most popular mode, but the types of messages sent have expanded to include recorded audio and video, emojis and stickers, voice calls and video calls.

"This will be another year of double-digit growth in the number of mobile messaging app users. By the end of 2017, 1.82 billion people worldwide will regularly use such apps, an annual increase of 15.5%."

Table of Contents

eMarketer’s Updated Forecast

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The Leading Apps

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Common In-App Activities

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20 charts are included in the full report:

Messaging App Usage Worldwide: eMarketer’s Updated Forecast, Leaderboard and Behavioral Analysis

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

eMarketer’s Updated Forecast

Mobile Phone Messaging App User Growth in Select Countries, 2016-2021 (% change)

Mobile Phone Messaging App Users in Select Countries, 2016-2021 (millions)

Which Regions Message the Most?

Mobile Messaging App User Penetration Worldwide, by Region, 2016-2021 (% of mobile phone internet users)

Smartphones: A Powerful Driver of Chat App Usage

Mobile Phone Messaging App User Penetration in Select Countries, 2016-2021 (% of smartphone users)

Mobile Phone Messaging App User* Growth vs. Smartphone User** Growth Worldwide, 2016-2021 (% change)

The Leading Apps

Users of Select Mobile Messaging Apps Worldwide, 2016 & 2017 (millions)

Monthly (MAUs) and Daily Active Users (DAUs) for Select Messaging Apps Worldwide, Q1 2017 (millions)

Top Messaging/Chat App Used by Internet Users in Select Countries, Sep 2016 (% of respondents)

The Stickiest Apps of Them All

US Daily Active Social Media User Share, by Platform, Nov 2014-Nov 2016 (% of monthly active users)

Time Spent

Frequency with Which Mobile Phone Owners in Brazil Use Select Mobile Messaging Apps, Jan 2017 (% of respondents)

Frequency with Which US Snapchat Users Use Snapchat, by Age, Feb 2017 (% of respondents)

Average Daily Time Spent on WeChat According to WeChat Users in China, 2015 & 2016 (% of respondents)

US Social Media Users Who Are Spending More vs. Less Time Using Select Social Media Platforms, Nov 2014-Nov 2016 (% of respondents)

Change/Expected Change in Time Spent Using Snapchat over the Past Year vs. Next Year According to US Snapchat Users, by Age, Nov 2016 (% of respondents in each group)

How Much Audience Overlap Exists Between the Leading Apps?

US Daily Snapchat Users Who Use Select Social Media Apps, Q4 2016 (% of total)

UK Daily Snapchat Users Who Use Select Social Media Apps, Q4 2016 (% of total)

Common In-App Activities

Mobile Messaging Activities Conducted by Mobile Messaging App Users in Brazil, by Platform, Jan 2017 (% of respondents)

Smartphone Owners in the US and Select Countries in Western Europe Who Use Messaging Apps to Replace Paid Voice Calls vs. Text Messaging, by Demographic, Aug 2016 (% of respondents in each group)

Mobile Messaging App Users in France and the UK Who Would Interact or Have Interacted with Businesses via Mobile Messaging Apps, Dec 2016 (% of respondents)