On the same day that long-established service Gmail finally announced it had broken through the 1bn monthly active user barrier, over-the-top messaging service WhatsApp revealed it had done the same in just over half the time.
WhatsApp, which was acquired by Facebook two years ago in a deal worth around $22bn, is the most popular of the new wave of over-the-top messaging apps, which enable smartphone owners to exchange messages, pictures, video and even voice recordings. According to the company, it now sees 42bn messages, 1.6bn photos and 250m videos shared daily over the app, and 1bn chat groups have been established using the service.
"WhatsApp began as a simple idea: ensuring that anyone could stay in touch with family and friends anywhere on the planet, without costs or gimmicks standing in the way," said a WhatsApp spokesperson in a blog post announcing the achievement. "We are proud of this milestone, and we're humbled by the extraordinary ways all of you have used WhatsApp."
It's worth noting that WhatsApp is only the second Facebook-owned app to reach the 1bn mark, following the company's core app. Despite the huge push it received from mandatory download, Messenger still only boasts 800m monthly active users, while Instagram has 400m. In contrast, Google now has seven services that see over 1bn monthly active users, including YouTube, Chrome, Maps and the newly-announced Gmail.
Unlike many of its rival services like KakaoTalk and WeChat, which are more popular in Asian markets, WhatsApp has so far avoided directly monetising itself, with very few ad campaigns having been run through the service. Mark Zuckerberg has said in the past that he didn't expect WhatsApp to contribute to Facebook's bottom line until it reached roughly 1bn users.
With that target now hit, however, we may begin to see some changes from the messaging app. In fact, the company recently announced it was eliminating its $1 annual subscriber fee as it sought to focus more on building services for corporate users, suggesting that tools for marketers to reach consumers via the messaging service may not be far away.