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Whatsapp’s multi-year drop in downloads has stopped

“WhatsApp for everyone” doesn’t quite explain this fall…

Meta’s WhatsApp messenger, which is so popular outside the US that some governments rely on it to communicate, has lost a significant portion of its downloads in the past few years.

This makes perfect sense – many people already have WhatsApp and the app comes pre-installed on many Android devices.

However, now the situation seems to be changing.

Since 2020, monthly WhatsApp downloads have dropped by 50%. AppFigures estimates that in January 2020, the messenger was downloaded by 63 million users, and in January 2023 by only 31 million.

“WhatsApp for everyone” doesn’t quite explain this fall…

Competition from Telegram and Signal, which is made by the co-founder of WhatsApp, consistently robbed users of the leading messenger in both 2020 and 2021. Although both competitors are smaller overall, their downloads grew when WhatsApp fell, indicating that that a sufficient number of potential users have decided not to use WhatsApp, but to go to competitors.

This loss could add up to 50 million new users who didn’t switch to WhatsApp!

Ultimately, the number of downloads returned to normal for all three apps, but this summer, all three apps started to grow.

WhatsApp downloads are up 34% since April, while Telegram is up 14%. In more absolute terms, this is 43 million for WhatsApp and 25 million for Telegram. Signal has also grown, but its downloads are an order of magnitude smaller, so it’s less relevant.

Fun fact: While WhatApps is not as popular in the US as it is outside of the country, the US is the biggest driver of WhatsApp downloads in the App Store. The situation is different on Google Play, which is dominated by India. The number of downloads there is 5 times higher than the App Store.