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Messenger has grown faster than any other app in three of the last four years
When Facebook bought WhatsApp last year, it did occur to me that the company already has messaging service. And I admit that I did wonder if maybe, possibly, Messenger might be in some danger of being swallowed up.
I coudn't have been more wrong about that. Not only did Facebook force its users to go and download the app, taking its functionalities out of the flagship Facebook app, but it has been building out its capabilities and making it a real competitior.
In fact, Messenger was the fastest growing smartphone app in the United States in 2015, according to data out from Nielsen, growing by 31 percent through the first 10 months of this year to 96.4 million average unique users.
That was a full five percent more growth than it's nearest competitor, Apple Music, which grew by 26 percent to 54.5 million users. Of course comparing the two apps isn't exactly fair since Apple Music has only existed since June.
The only other app to reach at least 20 percent growth was another Facebook, property, Instagram, which rose 23 percent.
Here's what most impressive about Messenger: this is the third time out of four years that it has been the fastest growing app. That this 31 percent is nothing compared to previous years.
In 2012 Messenger grew by a whopping 544 percent, and in 2014 it grew by 242 percent. Of course, 2015 was the year the app was decoupled, basically forcing a lot of Facebook users to download it, so those numbers are slightly skewed.
In case you were wondering what the fastest growing app of 2013 was. Yup, it was Instagram. That means that a Facebook property has topped this list for four years running.
And, to top that all off, this is also the third year in a row where the flagship Facebook app has had the most unique users, top 100 million every year, while no other app has ever come close to that number. How did anyone ever doubt that this company had a mobile strategy?
Coming in second place this year, and barely edging out Messenger, was YouTube, which had 97.6 million average unique users. In fact, while Facebook took the two top prizes, it should be a nice consolation to Google that it had, by far, the largest number of apps on the list with five.
In addition to YouTube, there was also Google Search (95 million users), Google Play (89.7 million users), Google Maps (87.8 million users) and Gmail (75.1 million users).
The final two were Apple apps, with Music and Maps (46.4 million users) rounding out the list.
So the final tally here was Google with five, Facebook with three and Apple with two of the biggest smartphone apps.
Nielsen report also showed another good sign for Google: Android has more than half of the smartphone market in the United States as of the third quarter of this year. though iOS isn't super far behind with 42.7 percent.
Since those two combine for 95.3 percent of the market, that doesn't leave much room for anyone else. Of all the rest, Microsoft is the clear winner with 2.8 percent, while BlackBerry has a paltry 0.7 percent.
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