Our recent bumper update to the Internet Statistics Compendium this month has seen an especially diverse array of data and trends concerning the world of mobile apps.

Check out the mobile report for the best in app-related research released over the last few months, whether you want to glance over the biggest app categories in a certain market, or want to dig down further into how companies are incorporating apps into their marketing strategy.

The app-related stats which jumped out at me this month, however, concern those from the messaging category.

Key services such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and SnapChat are increasingly becoming household names, and I wanted to delve deeper into their growth and their ongoing appeal.

Young people driving growth

Recent US-focused data from Pew Research Center digs into the popularity of messaging apps among teenagers.

Their research finds that 33% of teenage cell phone owners use messaging apps including WhatsApp and Kik. Girls are more likely to use them than boys (37% versus 29%) and those living in urban areas are more active in the category than suburban and rural dwellers.

Additionally, recent data from comScore highlights just how popular messaging apps are in the market overall. Facebook Messenger is the fifth most popular app in the country (reaching more than 51% of smartphone users) and Snapchat is the fifteenth most popular (reaching more than 19%).

Messaging apps are connecting people in growth markets

While messaging apps are clearly proving important to young people in the US, recent research from Ipsos and GlobalWebIndex looks at the popularity of these apps across the MENA and APAC regions respectively.

Ipsos data presented by Gareth Deree in March 2015 looks at key apps as used By MENA smartphone users throughout an average day.

WhatsApp clearly accounts for most daily app use, especially during the evening and late at night. Skype, texting apps and social media also see significant use throughout the day.

GlobalWebIndex also looked at APAC messaging app popularity in late 2014. WeChat leads the market reaching 39% of internet users, followed by Facebook Messenger at 16% with Skype and WhatsApp not far behind.

Messaging apps lead other categories for retention

While messaging apps may be leading the sector in the growth stakes, research from Flurry and Yahoo! also looks at how the category is performing better than average when it comes to retention as well.

On average, after an app has been installed for 12 months only 11% of users will open it again. For messaging apps this proportion of users is far higher at 62%, a rate the same as that seen at six months after download.

Messaging apps perform much better than others even when looking at use within the same month an app has been downloaded. With retention rates peaking at 68%, and those of average apps only hitting 36%.

The messaging app sub-category is a fascinating one

The current data highlights that for an app type where the purpose at first seems very narrow, numerous services are offering an increasing degree of messaging diversity – whether that’s short video clips, or being more geared toward contacts in a specific social network.

The growing mobile audience is truly embracing the range of messaging apps on offer, using respective services for different means, conversation types and different contact types.

It will be exciting to see how the sector develops further and whether the big messaging names such as Facebook and Skype can hold their own against the WhatsApps and SnapChats of tomorrow.

Luke Richards

Published 1 June, 2015 by Luke Richards

Luke Richards is a freelance writer and a guest blogger on Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or check out his blog

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