The app’s reach is particularly strong in markets outside of the United States. As of June 2019, Facebook Messenger was the most widely-used messaging app in the U.S. with a 57.2 percent reach, while Snapchat ranked second with a 25.9 percent reach. With a 12.9 percent mobile reach in the United States, WhatsApp ranked third among the leading mobile messengers for American audiences. However, the number of WhatsApp users in the United States is projected to grow to 85.8 million users in 2023.
As of 2019, Ecuador had the highest growth of WhatsApp downloads from the Apple App Store. Downloads of the messenger app surged almost 40 percent compared to the previous quarter of that year. As for the Google Play store, South Korea was the fastest-growing WhatsApp market, with downloads of the mobile messaging app increasing almost 56 percent in 2019.
Based on a low-cost subscription model, WhatsApp is a cheap alternative to carrier-billed text messaging via SMS, especially for international or group messaging. The mobile messaging app enables users to share text, image, video, voice messages and also supports video calling. The service handles billions of photo and text messages every day. WhatsApp might be the market leader in terms of global audiences but as of July 2019, the messaging app faces strong competition from other social messenger apps such as WeChat, Viber, and Discord.
Social network Facebook acquired the mobile app for 19 billion U.S. dollars in February 2014. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated that Facebook's acquisition of WhatsApp was closely related to the Internet.org vision of more affordable and efficient internet access worldwide. However, WhatsApp founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton have left the company since mid-2018, citing disagreements over monetization and user privacy. Due to his profits from the Facebook acquisition, WhatsApp founder Jan Koum currently ranks third among social media billionaires worldwide with an estimated personal net worth 9.6 billion U.S. dollars as of March 2019.