Worldwide installs of WhatsApp's mobile app declined 43 percent Y/Y for the January to April period, although they still outpaced its competitors, reaching approximately 172.3 million.
Telegram and Signal both saw a spike in adoption in January, but their download velocity has since slowed. In January, Telegram reached 63.5 million downloads, up 283 percent Y/Y from 16.6 million. Its installs have declined month-over-month since that initial uptick, and its downloads in April saw a slight 3 percent dip Y/Y, hitting 26.2 million as compared to nearly 27 million a year earlier.
It's clear that both apps saw an influx of interest in January due to users seeking messaging alternatives. Although that surge has slowed, Signal in particular is still experiencing elevated adoption. Signal's installs in January grew 5,001 percent Y/Y to 50.6 million, from 992,000 in January 2020. In February, its installs fell 86 percent M/M to a little more than 7 million. Although its installs have declined each month since the January spike, Signal is experiencing consistent Y/Y growth each month. In April, it saw 2.8 million downloads globally, more than double the 1.3 million in April 2020.
The decline in its installs throughout 2020 was possibly due to potential new users—eager to communicate with friends and loved ones—opting for the desktop or web versions of WhatsApp or other apps while sheltering in place.
However, the situation is still developing and made all the more complex by shifting user behavior. Parts of the world are beginning to reopen, while others are still besieged by the ongoing pandemic. The topic of virtual workplaces is also still top-of-mind, which will impact the way consumers use mobile messaging and potentially eliminate commutes permanently for a certain portion of the workforce. As the circumstances continue to evolve, we will likely see changes to the way consumers message and the platforms they gravitate to.