Barely a week goes by at the moment without WhatsApp or Snapchat making the headlines. But our latest trend report – on Mobile Messaging (download a free summary here) – shows that the buzz is entirely justified.

Across GWI’s 32 markets, 600 million adults aged 16-64 were using instant messaging tools on their mobiles during Q2 2014. That means the audience for this activity has grown by 30% since Q4 2012 – reflecting just how quickly messaging apps and services have come to the fore and challenged SMS / social networking as a favored method for mobile conversations.

But how do people feel about messaging apps? What do they want from them? And which ones are they using the most? As Quack! Messenger launches in the UK to compete with the existing range of messaging services – promising users a share of its advertising revenue – GlobalWebIndex has undertaken research among WhatsApp users to understand their usage of, and attitudes towards, chat apps.

Key Headlines include:

  • Only a quarter of WhatsApp users now prefer sending an SMS instead of using a messaging tool.
  • Outside of China, WhatsApp has now overtaken Facebook’s own Messenger service to become the top global chat app – being used by 40% of the mobile internet audience each month. However, in some countries the latter has seen a sharp rise in usage in recent months due to Facebook’s decision to remove the messaging component from its main app and transfer it to the Messenger service.
  • Snapchat is most popular in mature markets – with 14% of the mobile audience using it in the UK, USA and Ireland. It’s extremely popular among teens, being used by 48% of 16-19s in the UK and 45% of this age group in the US.
  • Even though chat apps are mostly free (or have a nominal annual cost in the case of WhatsApp), users are extremely uncomfortable with their data being used to make money. Over three quarters of current WhatsAppers believe that Facebook has no right to sell their personal information for the purposes of ad revenue, while an overwhelming 85% are concerned about how their conversations might be being used by companies behind-the-scenes.

To explore all of these areas in more detail – as well as a wide range of other attitudes and behaviors – you can download the report summary for free here. Or sign up to our Insight Store service and download the full report here.


Written by

Jason is Chief Research Officer at GWI. He's the main man who leads our global team of analysts, delivering world-renowned research. He's an in-demand data junkie who you might see popping up on your telly screens every so often to show you what's actually happening in the lives of consumers.

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