Launched in January 2009, WhatsApp was acquired in 2014 by social media giant Facebook for approximately 19 billion U.S. dollars, becoming the company’s most successful messaging app despite having transformed its’ flagship chat portal into a standalone app - Facebook Messenger - in 2010. 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.
Global usage and reachThe number of global unique WhatsApp users increased by 22 percent from the beginning of 2020 to the beginning of 2022 and is estimated to reach 2.26 billion unique users by June 2022. In January 2022, WhatsApp was the most downloaded chat and messaging app worldwide, amassing approximately 40.6 million downloads across the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. According to Meta’s company data, as of the third quarter of 2020, WhatsApp registered a global volume of 100 billion messages sent through the platform every day, an increase of almost 70 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2017.
WhatsApp reach is particularly strong in markets outside of the United States, with the regions of Hong Kong and Singapore reporting the largest quarterly growth of WhatsApp downloads on iOS, while Nigeria and Vietnam appeared to be the fastest-growing WhatsApp markets on Android during the fourth quarter of 2021. As of June 2021, the popular chat app counted 487.5 million users from India, as well as over 118.5 million users from Brazil, while the United States saw approximately 77 million WhatsApp users.
As mobile usage trends normalize after the sudden increase experienced in 2020 due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, time spent on WhatsApp has experienced a small decrease in 2021. In 2020, global users were spending over 19 hours per month on the popular chat app. By comparison, monthly WhatsApp usage saw an average of 18.6 hours per user on the platform in 2021, with Turkey, France, and Argentina being the markets with the largest decrease in monthly user engagement.
WhatsApp Business and messaging apps professional usageThe 2020 global coronavirus pandemic accelerated the adoption trends of digital tools and mobile communication channels in both social and professional contexts. According to a survey conducted during the third quarter of 2021 among professionals, around seven in 10 respondents reported using messenger services and chat apps like WhatsApp and Skype daily for work. WhatsApp Business, launched in 2018, allows companies and small businesses to initiate contact with users for marketing purposes, but more importantly, allows users to contact companies with a WhatsApp Business profile seamlessly from their regular WhatsApp interface.
In 2021, WhatsApp Business counted approximately 220.5 billion downloads worldwide, registering a growth of over 480 percent compared to the downloads amassed during the year of its launch. Medium and large businesses have been estimated to spend approximately 38.7 million U.S. dollars on WhatsApp Business in 2019, and the total spending on the messaging app's business platform is expected to amount to 3.6 billion U.S. dollars by 2024.