Messaging Apps Aren't Just Huge By User Numbers, They're Also Winning A Big Share Of Time-Spend




Messaging apps like WhatsApp and WeChat are huge and getting bigger. They're adding users incredibly fast, with Facebook-owned WhatsApp recently surpassing half a billion users.


And it's not as if one mobile messaging platform is cannibalizing the others. In fact, BI Intelligence's data shows that WeChat, LINE, WhatsApp, and Snapchat are all growing their user numbers in 2014 at a quarterly rate of 15% or higher.

But these apps have another big advantage that points to just how important they're becoming to the mobile ecosystem - they also account for a huge amount of time-spend by users.

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  • User sessions for messaging and social apps increased 203% in 2013 according to Flurry. That's about twice as fast as the increase in sessions for all types of apps, which was 115% for the year.

Let's rank specific messaging apps according to engagement, as shown in the BI Intelligence chart below.

Mobidia, a phone data traffic-tracking specialist, counted the amount of time a messaging app was open in the foreground of the average Android user's device, with the smartphone screen on (i.e., not running in the background).


  • Korea-based Kakao Talk users averaged 213 minutes with the app during the week ending Nov. 2, 2013 (more than any other mobile messaging app).
  • WhatsApp was a close second, as its users spent an average of 195 minutes with the app.
  • Kik was in third place with 97 minutes, while LINE users averaged 94 minutes on the app.
  • The 11 top messaging apps tracked by Mobidia averaged 84 minutes per user in a week.
BII mobile messaging minutes

A recent report from BI Intelligence takes a deep dive into the messaging wars. The report contains our exclusive estimates for monthly active users for all the top global messaging platforms - including some like Snapchat and LINE, which do not release MAU numbers.

Like social networks before them, these apps are becoming the hubs for everything global smartphone audiences do on mobile, and hence engagement is going up. Messaging apps help people connect with one another, share photos, video chat, and, increasingly - play games, buy digital goods, and even shop offline.

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In the report, we describe the similarities and differences between 15 messaging apps and include a case study of Japan-based LINE as an example of how this category can monetize and drive hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.

The report is full of charts and data that can be easily downloaded and put to use.


In full, the report:

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