Another billion-user milestone for Facebook: The company now has over 1 billion messaging users, after today announcing that it has passed 500 million monthly active users for Messenger, on top of the 600 million active users that Facebook-owned WhatsApp now has.
In Facebook’s last earnings presentation, CEO Mark Zuckerberg noted that “products don’t really get that interesting to turn into businesses until they have about a 1 billion people using them.” Looks like messaging may have just gotten interesting.
For now WhatsApp and Messenger remain independent, and we don’t know what kind of an overlap the two have in common users. What we’re marking is that in aggregate Facebook can count over one 1 billion active users across both.*
Today’s news represents huge growth for Messenger, which had only 200 million users in April 2014, a fact it announced at the same time that it passed 1 billion monthly active users on mobile.
Although we have yet to see ads or any significant monetization in Messenger, mobile drives the company’s wider business, with ads on its main app accounting for well over half of all of the company’s ad sales.
“Today more than 500 million people are using Messenger each month and we’re more committed than ever to make it the best possible messaging experience,” the company noted today in a blog post.
The company issues updates to Messenger once every two weeks, and that will not slow down, the company says.
“There is still a lot for us to do and we’re looking forward to bringing more innovation and updates to you in the coming months,” David Marcus, who runs Facebook’s messaging products, noted in his own Facebook post. Whether that will focus more on simple product changes to those that focus on monetization remains to be seen. The company has already been dabbling with how it would offer payments services within Messenger — an area that David Marcus, who came to Facebook from PayPal, would know very well.
On the earnings call last month, Zuckerberg did not shy away from payments questions himself. Asked about payments in Messenger, he said it would be something Facebook would do in partnership with others, rather than on its own:
“Payments is an important part of the online business ecosystem, but we’ve traditionally thought about this as something that we’re going to partner with other companies on to enable great solutions, rather than trying to compete and do it as a business ourselves. And the reason why we’ve taken this approach is it’s very important for all online businesses and our customers and partners that there is a good online payment system. People run ads to get customers and sell products and at the end of that conversion, if there is a good payment system that is smooth, then people will buy more things, which ultimately makes the ads and all of whole online flow more valuable for those partners and therefore more revenue and profit for our business as well.”
Messenger was the first of Facebook’s standalone apps, and Facebook has faced some controversy around how it has forced users to download the app rather than use it within Facebook’s main app — but not, so far, to the detriment of the app’s popularity, it seems.
*H/T to @rajatagr for asking for clarification.