Messaging apps have also increased the range of services they offer. Apart from being a more convenient alternative to SMS-based texting, they also provide enhanced features such as group chats, photo sharing, voice calls, and video calls. According to an April 2021 survey, more than half of the people interviewed were using third-party mobile apps to make voice calls either very often or somewhat often.
In 2020, the global outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic drove users towards engaging more with both voice and video calls, with usage of video conferencing and video call apps increasing both for private and for professional purposes. However, as of the first quarter of 2022, downloads of leading video conferencing apps Zoom and Microsoft Teams experienced a decline, as users in leading markets such as the United States and the United Kingdom are increasingly showing signs of video call fatigue, especially in professional settings.
Meta-powered messaging appsMeta currently owns two leading messaging app products – WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. The social media giant acquired WhatsApp in early 2014 for an eye-watering 19 billion U.S. dollars, when the messaging service had about 465 million monthly active users. In June 2022, WhatsApp was estimated to count over 2.26 billion unique users worldwide. Meta-owned Facebook Messenger also made the ranking of the most popular mobile messaging app worldwide, with approximately 988 million monthly active users as of January 2022.
Initially released in 2011, Facebook Messenger, an app purely dedicated to chatting, was developed to take over the instant messaging function previously connected to the main Facebook app. In 2021, the app reported approximately 347 million downloads worldwide, down by over 33 percent compared to the 523 million downloads amassed during the previous year. Messenger has since grown to include social features such as stickers, short video messages, and stories - which have been winning characteristics of Snapchat and Instagram - as well as video and voice calls. Improving the user experience on the app and adding functionalities might help Meta in competing with Apple’s native iOS service iMessage, especially in the U.S. market where it holds an audience reach of less than 50 percent.