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On Monday, WhatsApp, the most popular messaging app globally, introduced a number of new photo- and video-editing features reminiscent of those offered by rival chat app Snapchat.
The new camera features allow users to write or draw on photos and videos, and add emojis. WhatsApp’s massive user base will give parent company Facebook an opportunity to capture users in markets where Snapchat is yet to gain a foothold, potentially stifling its ability to grow its user base. WhatsApp boasts a user base in excess of 1 billion monthly active users, and is the primary chat app for Android users in more than 100 countries.
This is just the latest effort by Facebook to ensure that it maintains the status quo of controlling the social media and messaging app market. The social media giant recently rolled out other Snapchat-like updates to its properties, namely a Stories feature on Instagram, and it’s piloting “Messenger Day” on Messenger in Poland. Messenger Day allows users to share, edit, and add filters to photos and videos that disappear within 24 hours, according to TechCrunch.
Facebook attempted to buy Snapchat in 2013 for $3 billion but was turned down. Since then, Snapchat has turned into a massively popular platform, particularly among 13- to 34-year-oldNorth Americans. And Facebook desperately wants to reach these users. That’s because photos and videos are becoming central to the smartphone user experience, in some cases replacing text as the primary mode of communicating.
- A large portion of the US millennial population is using Snapchat. The app reaches 41% of all 18-34 year-olds in the US. That’s far more than the average TV network in the top 15 for the same demographic, which reaches just 6%, the WSJ notes.
- Snapchat’s users share more than 1 billion Snaps and watch more than 10 billion videos each day.
Messaging apps have evolved beyond simple text communication tools to include commerce, file sharing, artificial intelligence, and more. And that evolution is ongoing.
BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service, has compiled a detailed report on messaging apps that takes a close look at the size of the messaging app market, how these apps are changing, and the types of opportunities for monetization that have emerged from the growing audience that uses messaging services daily.
Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:
- Mobile messaging apps are massive. The largest services have hundreds of millions of monthly active users (MAU). Falling data prices, cheaper devices, and improved features are helping propel their growth.
- Messaging apps are about more than messaging. The first stage of the chat app revolution was focused on growth. In the next phase, companies will focus on building out services and monetizing chat apps’ massive user base.
- Popular Asian messaging apps like WeChat, KakaoTalk, and LINE have taken the lead in finding innovative ways to keep users engaged. They’ve also built successful strategies for monetizing their services.
- Media companies, and marketers are still investing more time and resources into social networks like Facebook and Twitter than they are into messaging services. That will change as messaging companies build out their services and provide more avenues for connecting brands, publishers, and advertisers with users.
In full, this report:
- Gives a high-level overview of the messaging market in the US by comparing total monthly active users for the top chat apps.
- Examines the user behavior of chat app users, specifically what makes them so attractive to brands, publishers, and advertisers.
- Identifies what distinguishes chat apps in the West from their counterparts in the East.
- Discusses the potentially lucrative avenues companies are pursuing to monetize their services.
- Offers key insights and implications for marketers as they consider interacting with users through these new platforms.
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The choice is yours. But however you decide to acquire this report, you’ve given yourself a powerful advantage in your understanding of the future of messaging apps.