Global Mobile Messaging 2020

How the Pandemic Is Changing Adoption and Usage of OTT Messaging Services

About This Report
Our new forecast for global mobile messaging app users shows that the pandemic has accelerated adoption of OTT messaging services, though not in every country nor to the same degree for every app.

Executive Summary

Mobile messaging apps were already gaining ground before the pandemic, but stay-at-home mandates accelerated their adoption. Engagement has slowed since earlier this year, but many new users will stick around, boosting the global monthly user base.

How has the pandemic changed our forecast for global mobile messaging app users?

We have increased our 2020 forecast for monthly users from 2.70 billion to 2.77 billion. Voice and video calling as well as group chatting have driven both adoption and engagement during the pandemic, particularly during the quarantine period earlier this year.

Which countries are driving mobile messaging growth?

For the most part, the top 10 growth countries are the same as they were pre-pandemic: India, Indonesia, Russia, China, Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico. Spain and Finland are new entrants to the list this year, while Italy will move up to the No. 4 spot. In the latter three countries, early stay-at-home measures increased the need to communicate via mobile.

Why has our US forecast only increased slightly?

Existing mobile behaviors, such as the widespread use of regular SMS and voice calling, have continued to hold back adoption of OTT messaging and calling during the pandemic. For consumers who want to video chat, Apple’s built-in FaceTime feature and even Zoom have been more popular than standalone messaging apps.

What are the leading messaging apps?

WhatsApp leads in most markets we track except the US, where Messenger is the No.1 app. WeChat continues to dominate in China, while Line and KakaoTalk are favored in Japan and South Korea, respectively. Telegram is a fast-growing player in Russia.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report explores our latest forecast for global mobile messaging app users, including breakouts by country and platform.

KEY STAT: We have increased our 2020 forecast for worldwide monthly mobile messaging app users from 2.70 billion to 2.77 billion due primarily to the effects of the pandemic.

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Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Mobile Messaging Usage Soars … and Then Plateaus
  3. Our 2020 Forecast for Global Mobile Messaging App Users
  1. Key Takeaways
  2. Read Next
  3. Sources
  1. Media Gallery

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Jasmine Enberg


Whitney Birdsall
Nazmul Islam
Junior Forecasting Analyst
Chris Keating
Research Director
Brian Lau
Digital Apprentice
Debra Aho Williamson
Principal Analyst
Yoram Wurmser
Principal Analyst