Last October, BGR broke the news that WhatsApp was delivering 1 billion messages each day. This caused quite a stir, as it dovetailed with some mobile operator warnings about declining SMS volumes, most notably by KPN. On Thursday, just 10 months later, WhatsApp confirmed that it is now handling 10 billion messages a day — 4 billion inbound messages and 6 billion outbound. How’s that for a hockey stick? The disparity between incoming messages and outgoing messages highlights the popularity of the group messaging feature, which plays a big role in the app’s success.
It’s worth noting that WhatsApp has been lagging a bit in America and only hit No.1 spot in the iPhone download chart this week, more than a year after becoming a top app in various European countries. Skype is another service that first broke through in Europe.
As a sign of its global hegemony, WhatsApp is now the No.1 app in all countries starting with an S, except Sao Tome, Seychelles, Slovenia and the Solomon Islands. The app rules in markets as diverse as Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, St.Kitts, Sweden and Swaziland. Two years ago, there were half a dozen messaging apps that plausibly could have reached some measure of success. WhatsApp has effectively eliminated them as a threat — its only real competition is now Apple’s messaging system.
The recent surge in WhatsApp message volumes is going to pose a serious challenge to mobile carriers across the world. For carriers in emerging markets, however, WhatsApp may turn out to be a valuable partner. In many low-income markets, consumers typically buy prepaid phones without data plans. The exploding popularity of this app may persuade consumers to cough up for small data plans, thus helping operators to nudge subscribers towards high-margin mobile data usage.