The messaging app Telegram recently joined an exclusive club: It had its one billionth download, becoming one of about a dozen apps in the world to hit the milestone. Too bad that when it comes to mobile messaging, one name still rules them all.
Facebook-owned WhatsApp, the world’s biggest mobile messenger, has been downloaded onto more than six billion devices, according to Sensor Tower, an app intelligence firm that also tracked Telegram’s numbers, which now look piddling in comparison. Apptopia, another app research firm, estimates that more than half a billion people on Earth use WhatsApp every day. The corresponding figure is about 36 million for Telegram. After eight years of competing with WhatsApp, Telegram looks unlikely to ever catch up in terms of scale.
In the battle for our attention, Facebook faces an array of credible, growing threats, not least from TikTok. But the company should feel much more secure in messaging thanks to WhatsApp-a Smartphone staple so deeply entrenched in daily life that it has become a communication utility for the globe. It was harder to see this last January, when WhatsApp controversially updated its privacy settings and prompted millions of people to flock to rivals. Elon Musk told his 42 million Twitter followers to use the encrypted messaging service Signal. Telegram’s founder, Pavel Durov, said that same month that the flight of WhatsApp users to his app was accelerating.