Facebook Inc said yesterday that its WhatsApp messaging service now boasts one billion users. This is more than double the number of users it had when Facebook acquired the app two years ago. The head of the Facebook-owned company, Jan Koum, said that 42 billion messages, 1.6 billion photos, and 250 million videos are sent through the app each day.
“That’s nearly one in seven people on Earth who use WhatsApp each month to stay in touch with their loved ones, their friends and their family.”
Despite the impressive user numbers, WhatsApp is not content to stop there. The blog post went on to say:
“But now, it’s back to work – because we still have another 6 billion people to get on WhatsApp, and a long way left to go.”
The firm said that the app is not going to change much beyond improvements in speed and security.
Facebook paid $19bn for the WhatsApp in February 2014. It had just 450 million monthly active users then, but Mark Zuckerberg said at the time that he expected it to reach 1 billion users. Yesterday, his prediction came true. In fact, WhatsApp has more than doubled its user numbers since it was bought by Facebook. Meanwhile, Facebook’s own Messenger app has just over 800 million users.
Facebook looks at ways to monetize WhatsApp
In January, WhatsApp dropped its 99-cent annual subscription fee that was charged to users after their first year. Facebook is still looking for the best way to make money from WhatsApp, which has shunned the idea of using ads. Facebook has hinted that they could monetize by charging businesses to use the app to communicate with customers.
Last week, Zuckerberg spoke about plans for the app in the firm’s Q4 2015 earnings call:
“We think this is an important step towards creating an even more ubiquitous product without affecting our plans for building WhatsApp into important business in the coming years. Later this year, we’ll be testing new ways for people to use WhatsApp to communicate with businesses and organizations that they want to hear from.”
WhatsApp not the only member of the billion-user club
The news comes shortly after Google parent company Alphabet said that its Gmail service had recently passed the one billion active monthly user mark. It joins other Google products such as Search, YouTube, Maps, Android, Chrome, and Google Play in boasting a billion users.
WhatsApp has never really taken off in the U.S., but it is hugely popular in Europe and South America. Many people use it to sidestep texting fees from local wireless carriers in places such as Africa and India.
The app recently added a voice calling feature that lets users make phone calls over the internet instead of through their carriers. Video calling could be added at some point in the future.
Facebook recently crushed Q4 earnings estimates. Now that WhatsApp is free for all users, the service could grow even faster and may even overtake its parent company when it comes to usage.