Facebook may be the world’s most popular social network, but when it comes to social messaging, other apps are usurping its dominance. Facebook Messenger is still the most popular smartphone social messaging app in the U.S., according to a survey conducted by On Device Research, but polls in four countries in different regions of the world found WhatsApp and WeChat are the reigning services.
As you might expect, China’s homegrown WeChat dominates its home country with 93 percent of On Device’s respondents saying they use it weekly. Facebook services have been banned in most in China since 2009, but in Brazil, Indonesia and South Africa — countries where Facebook apps are readily available — WhatsApp is by far the most used app. In South Africa and Brazil, Facebook Messenger is firmly entrenched in the No. 2 slot, but in Indonesia it doesn’t make the top 3, according to On Device’s poll.
Even in the U.S., WhatsApp is starting to challenge Facebook Messenger especially among 16-24 year olds where usage is almost evenly split between the two services. Snapchat’s user base is still tiny globally, but On Device found that 20 percent of younger smartphone users in the U.S. used the ephemeral photo messaging service at least once a week. In addition, the volumes of photos being shared on Snapchat, 400 million on a daily basis, now exceed those shared on Facebook, On Device discovered. (And as Om Malik reports, Facebook’s Instagram will get into the messaging game soon as well.)
Focusing on single dominant apps, however, may not be the most relevant metric anymore. On Device found that the majority of its respondents — made up of 3,759 iOS and Android phone users — used multiple messaging tools. Some 58 percent said that multiple apps were necessary because different friends used different messaging platforms, while 52 percent said made use of different features on different apps.
While social messaging may be split between multiple apps, IP communications as a whole has definitely overtaken SMS as a means of daily communication. On Device found that 63 percent of respondents in all five countries used IP messaging apps 10 times or more daily, while the number was only 40 percent for SMS.
Another surprising finding in On Device’s survey was the rapid adoption of BlackBerry Messenger on iPhones and Android devices. BBM only went live in the iTunes Store and Google Play in September, but On Device’s November poll found it had already become the second and third most popular messaging apps in Indonesia and South Africa respectively. WeChat is also showing signs of breaking out of China’s borders. It’s already a routinely used app in South Africa and Indonesia, and even 6 percent of U.S. respondents said they used it weekly.
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