Well that didn’t take long. Just two years after its debut as a standalone app, Facebook is reporting that Messenger has reached more than 1 billion active monthly users.
That's in addition to the more than 1 billion users on WhatsApp, the company’s other popular messaging app. Facebook's main app, with 1.5 billion active monthly active users, is believed to be the single most popular iOS app on the market, giving the company three apps with more than a billion users each.
“Today we are announcing that more than 1 billion people now use Facebook Messenger every month, making Messenger one of only a handful of apps worldwide that touch so many lives,” the company wrote on its news blog.
More Than Just Messages
The success of Messenger as a standalone app is undoubtedly a relief for the company, which faced significant resistance when it announced it would be spinning its messaging functionality out into a separate app and discontinuing the service within its existing Facebook app.
But the tactic has clearly paid off for the company. The billion-subscriber milestone represents a rapid increase in the number of users in the last several months, climbing to 900 million in April and 800 million in January. The app doubled its number of users in just 20 months.
And people are using Messenger for more than just text messages. The app also allows users to make voice over IP (VoIP) calls to each other. The functionality has become such a popular part of the service that Messenger now accounts for 10 percent of all the VoIP calls made on the Internet.
Increasing User Engagement
Facebook has made a concerted effort to attract more users to the app and hold on to the ones they already have. Earlier this month, the company announced that it was testing end-to-end encryption on the app, similar to the functionality it rolled out on WhatsApp a few months earlier.
“Facebook's most valuable asset is its customer base and the company has to do what it can to maintain and grow the number of active users,” Raul Castanon-Martinez, senior analyst for enterprise mobility at 451 Research, told us in an email. “They also want to consistently increase the time users spent on the app and user engagement, i.e., what they do with the app.”
From the details the company released today, the strategy seems to have been successful. In addition to text messages, Messenger users are also sending each other 22 million GIFs every day. Gaming has also been a popular feature on the app, with users playing 1.2 billion games of basketball and 250 million games of soccer through its games interface.
The platform is also becoming an important way for businesses to interact with their customers. Messenger currently hosts more than 18,000 bots, with 23,000 developers having signed up for the company’s bot development program.