WhatsApp’s User Base Appears to Be Growing in the U.S. bigtechnology.com

Alex Kantrowitz, in a Big Technology article with the headline “WhatsApp is Finally Starting to Dominate in the United States. Here’s Why.”:

Suddenly, everyone in the U.S. seems to be using WhatsApp. The app — once seen as an international phenomenon — grew daily users in the U.S. by 9% in 2023, according to Apptopia, and is gaining steam among the iPhone crowd.

Nine percent growth is nothing to sniff at, but framing it as “starting to dominate” and stating that it is being used by seemingly “everyone in the U.S.” is an over-egged pudding if ever I saw one.

Kantrowitz has some theories about why it is growing; here is one I found plausible:

A record number of Americans took vacations in 2023, with many traveling abroad. Hot spots like Mexico City, Santorini, and the Amalfi Coast were overrun with American tourists, a product of stimulus cash crossed with a desire for revenge travel. Outside the States, these travelers learned that WhatsApp is a vital communication tool for people and businesses. And after the international introduction, they kept using it, keeping in touch with contacts abroad and seeking to connect with U.S. businesses in a similar way.

It would not surprise me if this was a significant catalyst for WhatsApp’s growth, though whether it is maintained is a different story. WhatsApp truly is the communications fabric for much of the world. I use it for chatting with family throughout Europe and, just this weekend, I made dinner reservations for later this year.

Kantrowitz’s other theories include WhatsApp marketing campaigns and growing business users, both of which make sense to me, and increased interest in cross-platform compatibility, which is less convincing. Kantrowitz writes “most of WhatsApp’s users in the U.S. are iPhone owners”, according to the company. If you believe market share data from Statcounter or Counterpoint, the iPhone has a plurality of the U.S. smartphone market. If there were an even distribution of WhatsApp users, more of them would be iPhone owners, so cross-platform compatibility within the U.S. seems less necessary. However, if you believe CIRP, the iPhone’s market share in the U.S. has been declining and now sits at 39%.