Why Does Facebook Like WhatsApp?

The potential acquisition of WhatsApp Messenger by Facebook is all over the news right now. At our lunch break we discussed which one of the two messenger apps is more popular; Facebook Messenger or Whatsapp Messenger. We covered the potential threats for Facebook (with among others WhatsApp Messenger) already in our monthly publication of August 2012. However, we only discussed one month of data (July 2012) in a limited number of countries.

With the data from Distimo AppIQ* we were able to identify the monthly download volume estimations of both applications in the Apple App Store for iPhone in 41 of the main countries. As you can see in the indexed graph below, we estimated a higher volume for WhatsApp Messenger in some of the months, while in other periods Facebook Messenger was more popular. Since August 2012 the monthly estimated download volumes are particularly close to each other. In 2012, Facebook Messenger gathered an estimated 12.5% more downloads than WhatsApp Messenger. As WhatsApp Messenger is paid this is quite remarkable, in general free applications are downloaded ten times more often than paid applications.

The United States is one of the markets were Facebook Messenger was clearly winning compared to WhatsApp Messenger. The total estimation of downloads in 2012 in the U.S. have been two times that of WhatsApp Messenger. However, in many other countries WhatsApp was more popular. For example, in most European countries (including the United Kingdom), the download volume of WhatsApp Messenger has been estimated twice as high as Facebook Messenger. In the graph below the command and conquer map shows in which countries Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp Messenger won in 2012.

Please note that WhatsApp Messenger and Facebook Messenger were already available before January 2012 and hence the downloads before that time are not estimated. Still we feel this depicts very good how well WhatsApp Messenger performs and why it is rumored to be acquired by Facebook.

* With AppIQ download & revenue estimates are available for any app, enabling you to analyze your market share and compare your downloads to your competitors’ in one chart. Distimo collects two data sets, 1) publicly available data and 2) transactional data. Download and revenue volumes are then calculated based on daily sampling of both datasets. Read more on our methodology page. When calculating download and revenue volumes for individual apps, Distimo always excludes that app’s transactional data from the analysis.


Gert Jan Spriensma