12 apps with a billion users

A few years ago when Facebook acquired WhatsApp for about $19 billion, I wrote a post arguing out that the speed with which it was growing was made it a very special service. What made it even more special was the number of people that worked on the service. While checking out Barry Ritholtz’s blog, I came across a chart (by Jeff Desjardinswhich pointed out that there are 12 applications with a billion users. I would describe them as a “software platforms & applications.”

Microsoft, Google and Facebook are three companies that currently dominate the billion user club. I was surprised to not find any Chinese company in the mix, or Apple. But as Desjardins explains:

WeChat, which is the most popular mobile messaging app in China, couldn’t reach one billion active users even if it was used by every single person with a smartphone in China. That’s why the app “only” has 650 million active users right now.

It took Microsoft 25+ years to get to a billion. Facebook did it in 8.7 years. Microsoft’s Office took 21.7 years. Facebook’s WhatsApp took 6.8 years. Google’s Search took 12 years, YouTube 8.1 years, but Android took 5.8 years and Chrome 6.7 billion. Google has 7 applications in the billion user club — I had no ideas Google Mail had that many users.

Google’s non-search assetts benefit from being bundled in Android, so I would put Facebook ahead of them because people actually download their products and don’t just get them on their devices.

What does that mean? Well, it means that smartphones have turbocharged the adoption of technologies and services. And if you can make it on the mobile, then you can make to the billion user club. Get to work Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter!

A letter from Om

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