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Messaging Giants: Leading Messaging Apps of 2021

Messaging platforms are revolutionizing our means of communication. Each year, an increasing number of individuals gain access to the finest messaging applications, solidifying their crucial role in both personal and professional relationships. Our annual research delves into the most sought-after messaging apps globally to address common inquiries: What are the leading messaging apps of 2021? Which ones are preferred by my clientele? This article will provide comprehensive insights into the foremost messaging apps.

Most Prevalent Messaging Apps by Monthly Active Users

Monthly Active Users (MAU) refers to the count of individuals who engage with a platform per month. It serves as a robust gauge of a messaging app’s vitality and relevance. Listed below are the top five messaging apps arranged by their MAU in July 2021:

  1. Top Messaging Apps: WhatsApp
  2. Top Messaging Apps: Facebook Messenger
  3. Top Messaging Apps: WeChat
  4. Top Messaging Apps: QQ
  5. Top Messaging Apps: Telegram

The 5 Most Popular Messaging Apps by MAU

Were you taken aback by Telegram’s inclusion in the Top 5? As elucidated subsequently, this messaging application has been a prominent figure in 2021. In fact, Telegram recently achieved a milestone of 1 billion downloads.

1. Top Messaging Apps: WhatsApp

So, what stands as the most utilized messaging app worldwide? It’s WhatsApp, reigning with unparalleled popularity in Europe, Asia, America, Africa, and Oceania. Furthermore, it maintains its position as the preferred messaging app in countries like India, Brazil, and Pakistan.

WhatsApp consistently claims a spot in the top three communication applications in every nation, except for South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, China, and Myanmar. With over 2 billion MAU, WhatsApp leads its competitors by a substantial margin.

Most Utilized Messaging App: WhatsApp Achieved 2 billion MAU in 2020.

When discussing rivals, another formidable contender under the same corporate umbrella emerges. This implies that Facebook oversees the two most favored messaging apps in terms of MAU.

2. Top Messaging Apps: Facebook Messenger

Facebook Messenger secures the second position in the rankings. In January 2021, a staggering 1.3 billion individuals utilized Facebook Messenger or its lighter counterpart, Messenger Lite, on a regular monthly basis. For both the US and Canada, it has risen to become the premier iOS messaging app on the App Store.

In these countries, Facebook Messenger stands as the second most favored app for Android users, following WhatsApp. In essence, North American iOS users exhibit a preference for Facebook Messenger, while WhatsApp appears to be the favored choice among Android users.

The US stands as one of the primary markets for Facebook Messenger. In fact, 9 out of 10 citizens designate it as their primary messaging app. In Canada, half of the entire population engages with Facebook Messenger, totaling 18,490,000 users.

Premier Chat Apps: Messenger’s Metrics in the Last 3 Years

Nonetheless, Facebook Messenger seldom claims the top spot elsewhere across the globe. Only the US, Canada, Hungary, Mongolia, Madagascar, and Vietnam embrace it as their principal chat app.

What ensues? Predictably, the two dominant instant messaging platforms in China reassert their presence in the global ranking. Let’s pivot directly to the Chinese market.

3. Top Messaging Apps: WeChat

China has always held a unique position in the realm of messaging apps. Widely used platforms like WhatsApp, Line, Telegram, Facebook Messenger, and Viber are restricted in the country.

Tencent’s WeChat reigns as the most favored Chinese application, boasting a user base of 1242 million Monthly Active Users worldwide. Its utility extends beyond mere communication – the app encompasses a range of popular mini-programs, including e-commerce, games, rentals, and more.

WeChat Remains the Top Chinese Messaging App

WeChat Pay has become a ubiquitous digital payment method in China, further enhancing its appeal. While WeChat remains the paramount mode of online communication in the country, younger Chinese individuals are increasingly gravitating towards other messaging apps like QQ and DuoShan.

4. Top Messaging Apps: QQ

QQ continues to thrive in China, particularly among the younger demographic who aren’t required to provide a phone number for registration. With 606 million MAU, it secures the fourth position in the global ranking of messenger apps.

Prior to the advent of WeChat, QQ held sway as the primary messaging platform in China. Presently, it serves primarily as an office communication tool and a standard desktop messenger, facilitating the seamless transfer of hefty files.

QQ Remains a Premier Instant Messaging Platform in China

Now, let’s shift our focus to the final spot on the list. Despite its position, it stands out as the fastest-growing app among them all. Telegram’s MAU consistently witness an upward surge, having already surpassed some of the most popular chat apps such as Viber and Line.

5. Top Messaging Apps: Telegram

In contrast to Line or Kakao, Telegram transcends regional boundaries. In fact, it has emerged as a formidable contender across multiple geographical regions. In 2020, it was the preferred messaging app in 14 countries. A year later, that number escalated to 25.

At present, the app boasts 550 million Monthly Active Users. Notably, Telegram’s user base has witnessed a consistent 25% annual growth since 2018. It is projected to reach 1 billion MAU by 2022.

Premier Mobile Messaging Apps: Telegram’s Steady Growth Over 3 Years

We’ve navigated through the global statistics, but now let’s delve deeper into the distinct geographical regions. It is here that we unearth novel trends and pinpoint the optimal markets for each messaging app.

Most Popular Messaging Apps by Country

We’ve meticulously scoured the Play Store and the App Store across 230 countries and territories to ascertain which messaging apps, both for Android and iOS, occupy the top echelons of the communication category. This extensive survey has enabled us to identify the preeminent messaging app in each country.

Most Popular Messaging App by Region

While the precise algorithms governing the rankings remain undisclosed, it is widely acknowledged that metrics such as downloads, user engagement, ratings, and reviews wield considerable influence. Below, we present our findings on the leading mobile messaging apps by country in the current year.

Top Chat Apps in Europe

WhatsApp reigns supreme as the most favored messaging app in Western Europe. However, for the first time, Telegram has clinched the second spot, overtaking Messenger. Signal has emerged as a surprise contender, rapidly gaining traction as the third choice for Android users in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

In Central Europe, WhatsApp maintains its dominance, with Messenger securing the second spot, relegating Telegram to third place. Viber also enjoys popularity in certain Central European countries like Greece and Serbia.

Most Popular Messaging Apps in Europe

Telegram has solidified its standing as one of the most sought-after instant messaging apps in Eastern Europe. In 2021, both Russia and Ukraine embraced it as their primary messaging platform, with WhatsApp and Viber following suit.

Top Chat Apps in Asia

In South Asia, WhatsApp holds sway, followed by Telegram and Facebook Messenger. India, with 390.1 million MAU, stands as WhatsApp’s largest market, but the app also commands a substantial following in countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan.

Similarly, in Southeast Asia, these three platforms dominate. This region harbors competitive alternatives that fluctuate by country. MiChat gains prominence in Indonesia, while Line enjoys popularity in Thailand. In Vietnam, Viber and Zalo constitute popular choices.

In the Middle East, WhatsApp, Messenger, and Telegram emerge as the preferred messaging platforms. However, in countries like Saudi Arabia and Yemen, IMO is a prevalent choice.

As mentioned earlier, WeChat dominates the Chinese market, securing its position as the third most favored messaging app worldwide. QQ follows as the second choice for Chinese users and the fourth most popular messaging app globally.

Most Popular Messaging Apps by Country 2021: Asia

In Japan, users favor Line as their primary messaging app, followed by Kakao Talk and Google Messages. Line’s popularity in Japan has steadily increased year after year. However, the global user base for Line has experienced minimal growth in the past five years.

Regarding South Korean messaging apps, Kakao Talk claims the top spot in its home country, trailed by Telegram and Line.

Top Chat Apps in America

In the USA for 2021, Facebook Messenger is among the most widely used messaging platforms, especially among iOS users, accounting for 53% of the Operating System market share. It is closely trailed by WhatsApp and, to a lesser extent, Telegram.

Interestingly, WhatsApp holds sway among Android users, capturing 46% of the mobile OS market in North America. In 2020, Messenger was the preferred messaging app among USA Android users, although not among Canadian Android users.

Throughout Central and South American nations, WhatsApp remains the unchallenged leader in the messaging app domain. This includes densely populated countries like Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico. Meanwhile, Telegram secures the second spot in numerous of these countries.

Top Messengers 2021 in America

Messenger remains a formidable contender, securing the third spot in the rankings. This trio of powerful apps faces limited competition in this region.

Top Chat Apps in Africa

In Africa, much like the previous year, the top three messaging apps are WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Telegram. This region stands as one of the few where Messenger has not been eclipsed by Telegram’s surge.

Most Popular Messaging Apps by Country: Africa

It’s important to note that other messaging apps like Gem4Me or Ayoba enjoy substantial popularity in specific African countries. Their user bases continue to grow steadily, although they have yet to break into the top three in the African continent.

Top Chat Apps in Oceania

Messenger was the favored chat app for Australians and New Zealanders in times past. However, in 2021, this is no longer the case. WhatsApp has recently claimed the top position in both the Play Store and the App Store.

In Papua New Guinea, BiP stands as the preferred messaging app. However, internet penetration in the country remains relatively low, thereby preventing it from making the cut into the top three.

As evidenced, diverse countries exhibit distinct preferences for various apps. While Asia demonstrates a wide array of messaging platforms, WhatsApp, Telegram, and Messenger stand as undisputed leaders in Central and South America.

Messenger No Longer the Preferred Text App in Oceania

Now, let’s transition to the concluding section where we’ll delve into the key trends observed throughout this year.

Most Popular Messaging Apps Trends in 2021

Since our last Messaging App Research in July 2020, noteworthy developments have transpired. We’ve discussed MAU and regional inclinations. Now, what can we deduce from this year’s outcomes?

Messengers Popularity in 2021

Best Messaging Apps: WhatsApp Maintains its Dominance

Is WhatsApp the reigning champion? Our Top App by Country research for 2021 reveals that WhatsApp stands as the most preferred messaging app in 188 out of 230 countries/territories.

If we discount WeChat and QQ, which primarily pertain to China, and Facebook Messenger, a subsidiary of Facebook, Telegram emerges as the most formidable contender. Presently, Telegram commands four times fewer users than WhatsApp.

But why do individuals gravitate towards WhatsApp? There are several factors at play: It holds the mantle as the most widely used app globally, implying that your contacts are likely already using it. It made its mark at the onset of the smartphone era nearly a decade ago, benefitting immensely from that early surge.

Moreover, its user-friendly interface, where individuals are identified by phone numbers, simplifies the process of adding new contacts compared to methods involving usernames. This means that users can communicate with their contacts on WhatsApp simply by having their phone number – provided both parties have WhatsApp installed.

WhatsApp’s Success – 3 Key Factors

This is not the sole app experiencing a period of prosperity. 2021 has been particularly favorable for both Telegram and Signal. Despite having a smaller user base, they are progressively becoming more prominent players in the instant messaging landscape.

Best Messaging Apps: Telegram and Signal Gain Traction

Telegram holds the second position among messaging apps in the Google PlayStore for over a hundred countries. In the App Store, this holds true for 25 countries. The app’s success can be attributed to its innovative features and the growing concern for internet privacy among users.

In the early months of 2021, both Telegram and Signal experienced a substantial surge in downloads – 98% and 1192%, respectively. This surge was prompted by WhatsApp’s new policy, which involved sharing users’ data with Facebook.

However, there was another catalyst for Signal’s meteoric rise within such a short span: In January of this year, Elon Musk tweeted “Use Signal” to his 42 million followers. Signal soared to 51 million downloads in the same month, solidifying its position as one of the most popular messengers of 2021, particularly in certain European countries.

The inaugural month of the year was equally fruitful for Telegram. The app garnered an additional 64 million downloads, securing its position as the most downloaded app worldwide in January.

Telegram and Signal Emphasize User Privacy

Is the competition between Telegram and WhatsApp already underway? Perhaps not, at least for now. Yet, Telegram has emerged as one of the most sought-after messaging apps in 2021. Only time will reveal if this surge is a momentary phenomenon or the harbinger of a new trend.

Messenger’s Position Eroded by Telegram

In our research for 2021, an intriguing pattern emerged: In numerous geographic regions, Telegram is supplanting Messenger as the second most favored messaging app. This trend is especially pronounced among Android users, while not as apparent among iOS users.

Telegram has overtaken Messenger as the second most popular messaging app in the Play Store in nearly a hundred countries, relegating the latter to third place. This suggests that Telegram has finally gained the upper hand, positioning itself as a serious contender to Messenger.

This raises a significant question: Why is Messenger, and not WhatsApp, feeling the repercussions of Telegram’s ascent? The truth is, Telegram is still a considerable distance from WhatsApp’s user base. Nonetheless, it is expanding rapidly enough to pose a serious challenge to Messenger in multiple countries.


Telegram Closes in on Facebook Messenger

However, Messenger remains highly influential in 8 of the 10 most populous countries on Earth. But if Telegram continues its current growth trajectory, it could potentially become the second most popular non-Chinese messaging app in terms of MAU within just a few years.

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