WhatsApp, the free messaging service, has announced it has 400 million monthly users. In a blog post announcing the news, cofounder Jan Koum explained just how the app has become so big. It's not just texting-happy teens that use the service, he says, although they are the demographic most responsible for its growth.
Despite all the end-of-year chatter about Snapchat being the next startup to follow Instagram and Tumblr in being acquired by a big firm, WhatsApp dwarfs its ephemeral rival. The firm was reported to be on Google's shopping list earlier this year, as was Evan Spiegel's startup. But WhatsApp's figures—its methodology is more transparent than Snapchat's, according to BuzzFeed's John Herrman—are greater than those of Snapchat, which has just 25 million monthly users, according to +GlobalWebIndex last month.
The popularity of free messaging apps, at the expense of staid old SMS, has been on the rise for some time—indeed, Ted Livingston, the founder of Kik, calls messaging "the killer app in mobile." Facebook added voice options to its own Messenger platform earlier this year, and its sister firm Instagram added a direct messaging service earlier this month.