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India is the largest market for WhatsApp with 48M monthly active users

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India is the largest market for the mobile messaging app WhatsApp with 48 million monthly active users (MAUs), says WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum in a interview with Re/code.

This is up from more than 40 million MAUs in February 2014, indicating that the company has added eight million MAUs in just two months. The company has also more than doubled its India user base in about eight months. It had reported 20 million MAUs in August 2013 and 25 million MAUs in November 2013.

Koum says India has been one of the largest source of growth for the company along with Mexico, Brazil and Russia. The company claims to have crossed 500 million monthly active users worldwide. It also claims that users are sharing more than 700 million photos and 100 million videos on a daily basis. Facebook had acquired WhatsApp for $19 billion in February 2013.

Interestingly, similar to Facebook which claims to have 100 million MAUs in the country, India is not a significant revenue market for the company yet but it isn’t a no-revenue market. WhatsApp’s Head of Business Development Neeraj Arora had told Medianama that this is because WhatsApp has chosen not to push subscriptions on Android so far due to lack of carrier billing integration on Google Play.

WhatsApp has also inked three telco partnerships over the past year or so: its first partnership was inked with Reliance Communications in October 2012, followed by Tata Docomo in December 2013 and Uninor last month. The company however doesn’t make any money on these carrier deals, rather its more of an awareness and branding initiative. The company is currently hiring for a business head for the Indian market as a part of its expansion plans for this year, along with a few other markets.

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Competition: While none of WhatsApp’s competitors have disclosed its monthly active users base for India yet, which we feel is a true measure for a messaging app, Bharti Softbank-backed Hike & Viber had claimed to have 15 million registered users in February 2014 while LINE had claimed to have a similar number in December last year.

Tencent’s mobile messaging app WeChat hasn’t disclosed its India user base but globally it is the second largest mobile messaging app with 355 million monthly active users as of end 2013, just behind WhatsApp. However, its home country China represents a majority of this user base. Last August, WeChat had claimed to have 100 million registered user accounts outside China with no word on its active user base.

Also read:

On Telecom vs Internet in a post WhatsApp Voice scenario
WhatsApp’s Business Head Neeraj Arora on Carrier Deals & Voice, Biz Dev Plans, India, Payments
WhatsApp’s Business Head Neeraj Arora on Integration Of Services, The Facebook Deal & Why He Joined WhatsApp

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