15 Most Popular Instant Messaging Apps

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In this article we are going to list the 15 most popular instant messaging apps. Click to skip ahead and jump to the 5 most popular instant messaging apps. I am sure many of the people who are reading this article remember the days of MSN Messenger, which was the first popular instant messaging app used across the world. The messenger service was established in 1999, and for the next decade or so, was by far the best means of communication for everyone. I was 12 when I started using it, and I remember the painstakingly created usernames which we all cringe at now, but just how fun it was to come home from school and later be in contact with each other through messenger. Of course, all of this was before the advent of mobile phones and especially smart mobile phones. And even when phones were invented, at least in my country, the text and calling packages were quite expensive because of which we preferred MSN Messenger, which later became Messenger Live.

I’m sure many of you also remember signing out and then singing back in again, just to send a notification across to your chat list and attracting the attention of specific people. Most of us remember those times with fond nostalgia because they were as simple as simple could be. The service finally came to an end in 2013, and reached a peak in 2009, when there were 330 million active users, or more than the population of the United States. The closest competition the services had in those years was Yahoo! Messenger, operated by Yahoo! and was quite popular too, but also does not exist anymore.

The difference between that time and now is the development of technology to the extent that it has become quite cheap. While at the time even basic cell phones were quite expensive, now most smart phones are cheap enough up to the fact that 2.7 billion people use smartphones across the world, which is why apps have now become the biggest thing rather than desktop messenger services. New apps have been developed over the  past decade or so which make MSN’s usage number look quaint. Imagine 2 billion people using the same instant messaging. The numbers are absolutely mind boggling, showing us the widespread usage of instant messaging services, as people can instantly connect up with friends and family, even as the world becomes more globalized. Living in a developing country, it was quite rare for people to move abroad in the previous decades but now, many more people move than they used to and keeping in touch with them or in contact with them has never been easier as well. This is perhaps the biggest reason why the most popular instant messaging apps are such a hit, due to the growing market. But of course, it’s not just about keeping in touch with those who don’t live near you. It is much easier to use a free service to text, call or video call a person and the free part is why these things are so incredibly popular.

15 most popular instant messaging apps


The odds are extremely high that most of the people reading this article also have an account on WhatsApp. I’ve had one for around 8-9 years and nearly everyone I know, old or young, is on it as well. The app has obtained massive popularity and was acquired by Facebook in 2014, due to the aforementioned popularity and massive user base. However, the company has been in hot waters recently as it revealed a new privacy policy, which attracted huge controversy. The privacy policy was announced in December 2020 and people were told if they did not accept it by February 8, they would lose access to WhatsApp. The privacy policy also gave WhatsApp permission to share more information with Facebook, which was the part which attracted disdain and condemnation from everyone. This even led to Elon Musk, founder of Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) and Space X, and the second richest person in the world right now, to tweet his support for moving away from WhatsApp and onto Signal, which is said to be more safer in terms of data and privacy. This of course led to millions of followers changing their services and investing in Signal, boosting its stock by 6,350% in just three days. Unfortunately, and this is an indictment of how brainlessly people follow their favorite celebrities without even verifying the basic facts first, this was the wrong company, as the actual messaging app Signal is owned by a non-profit organization and doesn’t even have shares to trade.

However, in a show of the power of people, this time in the correct sense, the absolute outrage that occurred over this new privacy policy led to WhatsApp being on the back foot, starting initially with its biggest market which is India. India has 340 million WhatsApp users and to ensure that the number doesn’t plunge, WhatsApp took out full sized ads in major newspapers in the country to calm down users and counter the rumors that were spreading like wildfire. However, this strategy had limited success and most people were still on the fence, which finally resulted in WhatsApp actually delaying its policy now till May and confirming that people who didn’t agree to the new policy by February 8 would not have their accounts deleted. What will happen now remains to be seen, but the fact that such a major corporation was forced to trackback shows that if united, people can achieve amazing things. Sadly, too often this outrage is focused on a loss of convenience only.

WhatsApp is not the only instant messaging app which has a lot of users. There are several others with hundreds of millions of users and have been at the top for many years. To determine our list, we initially considered the research done by Data Reportal, which shows statistics for the most used social media apps. Where the numbers weren’t mentioned in the Data Reportal statistics, we searched separately for their active monthly users and finalize our list. So without further ado, let’s take a look at the apps that are more than likely to be on your phone right now, starting with number 15:

15. Discord

Total number of active monthly users in 2020 (in millions of people): 6.7

Discord was created 6 years ago in 2015 and was developed by Discord Inc. While it has 6.7 million monthly active users, it has more than 250 million users overall, and you can be sure these numbers will grow further in the near future.

I quit

Pixabay/Public Domain

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