It’s not just talk. Chat and Voice over Internet Protocol apps are popular with U.S. Android users.
Nearly two-thirds (64%) of Android smartphone owners in the U.S. used chat or VOIP apps on their phones in January, according to this month’s exclusive Mobile Strategies 360/Informate monthly app review.
However, such apps only account for 4% of total time spent with Android smartphones in January, mobile research firm Informate Mobile Intelligence Pvt. Ltd. finds. The approximately 650 U.S. consumers Informate analyzed on average spent 176 minutes per day with their Android smartphones during the month. 4% of that time, or about 7 minutes, was in chat and VOIP apps, and 16%, or about 28 minutes, was spent on other communications activities, including phone calls and text messages, Informate reports.
Chat apps (also known as Over The Top messaging apps or OTT apps) such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp (which is owned by Facebook) are popular with consumers because they mimic text messaging, except they use the Internet to connect users instead of the wireless voice networks that carry text messages. That means consumers don’t have to pay for text messages. All they need is a Wi-Fi or cellular data connection for the app to work.
The research also finds that while more females used chat or VOIP apps in January (66%) than males (61%), males used the apps longer on average each day—8 minutes on average for men vs. 6 minutes for women. Additionally, consumers ages 18-24 use the apps for the longest length of time, averaging 11 minutes per day.
50% of all smartphone owners in the panel used the Facebook Messenger app in January, making it the most popular chat app. That is followed by Google’s Hangout app with 14% and WhatsApp and Skype, tied at 9%.
Facebook plans to further expand the its mobile chat-like service beyond instant message conversations between individuals or groups, David Marcus, vice president of messaging products, wrote in a blog post January.
800 million consumers use Messenger each month, Marcus wrote. “It’s a good number, but we believe we have so much more opportunity ahead of us, and these are still the early days of Messenger,” Marcus wrote.
In particular, Marcus wrote that Facebook aims to help consumers use Messenger to interact with businesses or services to buy items, order rides, book air travel and chat with customer service representatives. The Messenger app is free to download and a consumer doesn’t need a Facebook account to use it.
Other messaging apps like Kik are attracting funding in the U.S. as such apps, already popular overseas, gain popularity in the U.S.
Kik in August raised $50 million from China’s Tencent Holdings Limited, the operator of major social messaging mobile platforms in China. Kik is now estimated to be worth $1 billion and has 200 million users. Earlier investors in Kik include Valiant Capital Partners and Foundation Capital.
While chat apps and services are quickly gaining huge numbers of followers, the market is highly fragmented by geographic region. For example, highly popular in China are China Mobile and WeChat, with 763 million and 600 million users, respectively, according to a recent report by mGage, a mobile marketing and technology company. Meanwhile, Line is popular in such Southeast Asian countries as Thailand, with around 400 million users, according to mGage.
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