Can Facebook Messenger outstrip industry leader Whatsapp?

This week Facebook announced several momentous achievements for its Facebook Messenger App. Not only a billion plus downloads across both Apple and Android systems but in the region of 800 million users per month.

Considering it has taken Facebook nearly twelve years to reach 1.44 billion users, there’s a very strong possibility that within 2/3rds of the time it took Facebook, Messenger could have outstripped its parent company for users.

Obviously comparing the two’s achievements is redundant, they are one and the same. Separately however, Facebook inspired a genuine cultural movement, whilst simultaneously providing one fifth of the entire world’s population with the ability to contact each other directly, whereas Messenger only recently seceded from Facebook to become it’s own independent app, (albeit still under the Facebook umbrella).

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Facebook it could be argued has no real competition, Twitter isn’t in direct competition, (Twitter has enough internal issues at the minute, without worrying about competitors), In comparison Messenger hasn’t even claimed number one on the Smartphone Messenger app charts…Yet.

Since Messenger became a standalone app, downloads have continued to soar, and last month more than 800 million people used the app. In little over twelve months Messenger has also tripled the number of people using the app and was officially the fastest growing app of 2015.

Some of the issues that could perhaps hinder Messenger’s progression to becoming market leader, are its tendency to deplete battery life whilst open, its relative sluggishness on older smartphones and its noticeably poor quality phonecalls, (Poor Wi-Fi connection could be argued as a defence.)

It would be foolish to think that Facebook are unaware of the problems that Messenger could face in the future, but its spectacular growth will allow Mark Zuckerberg and the Facebook team a little celebration. Currently Messengers numbers are larger than Snapchat and Viber combined and only 100 million behind Whatsapp’s reported 900 million users.

The major difference between Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp is daily use. According to Whatsapp CEO Jan Koum, the social media app deals with 18 billion messages per day and 70% per cent of people who own the app (around 560 million people) use it daily.  The most we know about Facebook Messenger’s numbers is that nearly all 800 million of its users, use the social media app every month.

It’s a well known fact that in 2014 Facebook acquired Whatsapp for $19 billion dollars, and with both social media apps continuing to increase their overall membership, Mark Zuckerberg will be convinced that it was a shrewd (if rather expensive) piece of business.

With Whatsapp continuing to strengthen its grip on the instant messaging market, perhaps Facebook looked at Whatsapp’s plus points, looked at its negative points and tried to adapt them accordingly to their own social media app.

With today’s announcement that Whatsapp has dropped their yearly 99c membership fee, with the hope of retaining users after the expiration of their yearly trial. Many Whatsapp users have expressed panic that the company might instead now allow third person ads on the app. Whatsapp however have issued a strong rebuttal refuting any possibility of this, their blogpost said; “People might wonder how we plan to keep WhatsApp running without subscription fees and if today’s announcement means we’re introducing third-party ads. The answer is no. Starting this year, we will test tools that allow you to use WhatsApp to communicate with businesses and organizations that you want to hear from.”

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Whatsapp won’t be the first app to attempt to reach consumers this way, Facebook have been trialling this system in the US since last year. Both Uber and KLM have been working with the social media company, and you can be assured that if the trial partnerships are deemed a success, Facebook will look to capitalise on their potential.

Currently both are only available in the States, but Facebook will already be looking at ways in which to develop their system for worldwide access.

Both Whatsapp and Messenger are expected to burst through the billion user barrier in a matter of months, (Whatsapp is apparently gaining more than a million new users per day and Messenger it can be estimated not far behind it.) That’s a possible two billion consumers, and if advertisers can approach in the correct manner, two billion customers.