The $19 billion Facebook paid for WhatsApp seems to have been worthwhile according to a clue dropped by the company today. Whatsapp CEO Jan Koum revealed on his Facebook page that the popular messaging company now has over 800 million monthly active users, which is up from 700 million in January. At this rate, WhatsApp will reach the one billion user milestone before the end of 2015.
The numbers highlight just what a threat WhatsApp is to Facebook. Users are increasingly preferring the privacy offered by the mobile chat company's Groups feature, where they talk but more crucially share photos, the lifeblood of Facebook. By purchasing the company Facebook avoids having to compete with the plucky upstart and can instead look to collaborate with and pinch ideas from the company.
WhatsApp recently went beyond texting, activating voice calling for Android users. This feature will soon be available to iOS users, and according to a leaked screenshot could arrive on Windows Phone soon, too.
The massive scale of WhatsApp comes as social rival Snapchat announced 200 million monthly active users in January. Both WhatsApp and Snapchat are mobile only, which mean the number of users on each compares differently to Facebook which has a mix of desktop and mobile visitors. Both sets of numbers truly show that had Facebook not bought Whatsapp they would have been very much on the defensive at the moment.
It will be interesting to see what comes along next to challenge Facebook & Co. for mobile eyeballs given how fast Snapchat, Whatsapp and Instagram came onto the scene.