This is up from 20 million monthly active users in August 2013, indicating that WhatsApp has added five million monthly active users in just three months. Globally, WhatsApp had claimed to have 300 million monthly active users in August 2013.
Arora also mentioned that their partnership with Reliance Communications (RCOM) has worked “phenomenally well”, although he didn’t provide any specific information on this. WhatsApp had inked its first and only telco deal with RCOM last October, to launch a ‘WhatsApp plan’ for all Reliance GSM subscribers, wherein they got unlimited WhatsApp usage for Rs 16 per month. (Also read: On Whatsapp, Its Telco Relationships In India & Other IMs)
Interestingly, Idea Cellular had also mentioned during its earnings call that more than 4.3 million Idea connections had accessed WhatsApp in the last quarter (Q2-FY14), although strangely it had also mentioned that free messaging apps like WhatsApp were a threat to its non-data VAS revenues, whereas it is these same free applications which are driving the data usage on these networks, thereby growing Idea Cellular’s data VAS revenues.
Other Players? While none of the WhatsApp competitors have disclosed its monthly active users base for India yet, which we feel is a true measure for a messaging app, Japanese mobile messaging application LINE had claimed to have hit 10 million registered users mark in India last month. Bharti-Softbank (BSB) backed Hike had also claimed to have 5 million registered users in April 2013 and at a recent event, BSB Head of Strategy & New Product Development Kavin Bharti Mittal had claimed to be registering a healthy growth in monthly active users for Hike, although he didn’t disclose any specific numbers.
Tencent’s WeChat doesn’t provide any country-wide breakup but it had claimed to have crossed 100 million overseas users in August 2013.
What’s also worth noting is all the three players have significantly invested in various marketing initiatives including TV Commercials, while WhatsApp seems to be registering this growth on zero marketing spend. But that’s probably the price to pay for a late entry into the messaging space, where it not only has to pitch itself as a better product but also increase its usage, since users to tend to be active on the service where most of their friends are active.