Your favorite messenger

by Volker Weber

I posted a couple of polls on Twitter:




Thank you for participating in these polls. Before we dive deeper, a few remarks. WhatsApp is very dominant in some European countries, but not in the US. Apple has a successful platform with iMessage (and Facetime), while Google is struggling to replicate this success.

This is reflected in the results. While Facebook has the lead with WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, there is a stronger foothold for Apple on iPhone, then there is for Google on Android. I summed up Signal/Telegram/Threema for a simple reason: regardless of which of those messengers is your favorite, you are not trusting your social graph with Apple, Facebook or Google.

End-to-end-encryption is available on all of those messengers. It does not matter which messenger you chose, the content of your messages should stay private, unlike plain email or SMS texts for that matter. The interesting data is meta. The people you are communicating with is your real social graph, not your Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ (ahem) "friends", not even your phonebook which some people guard as if it weren't a bloated collection of old entries.

Facebook is most successful in exploiting this graph, Google only owns it through Gmail. Their messaging efforts are plenty and unsuccessful. Both are advertising companies and if you think you are avoiding Facebook by using WhatsApp instead of Facebook Messenger, well, think again.

Apple is different from Facebook and Google. They only care about providing a perfectly integrated platform. If they were after your social graph, they would provide clients for other operating systems.

The longer platform play is of course to expand from messaging to full on commerce. China provides a look into that future. WeChat is life. Once a messaging platform is dominant, you can no longer escape it, unless you want to be disconnected. Does that future look Orwellian? You bet it does.

Personally, I can reach most contacts on iMessage, since almost all of my friends have iPhones, iPads or Macs. Some use WhatsApp for convenience; there is no Windows app for iMessage and they would like to use their keyboards. Some have Android devices, where iMessage is not an option. And for the "resistance" I have Signal. I cannot be bothered with Telegram or Threema.

Since I asked on Twitter, the results are skewed. Asking the same question of Facebook would make an even stronger point for the Facebook platform. And the "resistance" looks much stronger than it actually is.



Results are in. Comments are open now.

Volker Weber, 2018-02-15

It is very similar here. Most of my friends are using iOS devices. I prevent using What‘s App. I don‘t like it. I think Whatsapp is ugly and I don‘t like the communication style that is celebrated in that platform.

I use iMessage whenever I can, and I miss the ability to ping Android users via
iMessage. I wish apple would provide some baseline iMessage app for Android. That would at least allow me to ask Android users to install iMessage to establish a communication channel to me.

However, unless there isn‘t a iMessage for Andreoid, I will have to use WhatsApp to text my peers that do not live in the Apple Bubble.

Dominique Roller, 2018-02-15

Result were skewed because you had to be registered at Twitter to vote.

Adalbert Duda, 2018-02-15

It's all about the bubble you are living in and bubbles of your partners.

For me (Android) my iMessage communication is 0% and from my estimated 30% iOS users I'm communicating with nobody is asking for iMessage.
80% are on WhatsApp, another 20% on Threema and Telegram. Signal/SMS/Hangout less than 5 people. Nobody on Allo/Duo...

Jean-Marc Autexier, 2018-02-15

Allo/Duo was a Facetime/iMessage copycat effort, which fell completely flat. And as you stated, iMessage is an Apple thing.

Volker Weber, 2018-02-15

When I'm in Germany, it seems like everyone I see on a train is using WhatsApp. My theory as to why is that most people have phone plans which charge extra to send/receive SMS messages to/from another country. Is this true? If it is, then everyone being on WhatsApp gets them around that?

I don't know anyone using WhatsApp here in the US unless they need to text with someone in another country. And for most of us, that's pretty rare. Which reminds me that I need to confirm that WhatsApp is up and running on my wife's Galaxy for when I go back to Germany in two weeks.

Since most of the guys I know aren't on FB, seeing that only 10% of the Android people are using SMS is really surprising. I'd be interesting in knowing the regional breakdown on that.

Thanks for the heads up that the default app for Android SMS messaging is called "Messages". Since that's a title that no one uses, I had to be reminded.

Good poll.

Timothy Briley, 2018-02-16

Timothy, SMS are not really a thing here, anymore. The messaging apps are so much more able, think groups and media. I only write SMS very occasionally to a certain 'resistor'.

Can iMessage do groups? I honestly do not know.

Regarding becoming disconnected: This really is a thing. As almost all planning for meeting with friends is done in (usually WhatsApp) groups, people do become somewhat disconnected. Of course you e.g. send them an SMS, once it is decided, but that is not the same. I am not judging.

Overall, the decision for a certain messenger app depends on the share of your personal contacts that you can reach in it. Because of that, they tend to be regionally distributed.

I am having a personal opinion, why WhatsApp is so strong here: They had an extremely broad platform support, when this began. Others focused on iOS and Android, WhatsApp had S60 ((mostly) Nokia Symbian Smartphones) even S40 (Nokia Featurephones) and BB (and of course everything else). I remember mailing with Jan Khoum, back in the days. As Nokia used to be very strong here, this might have been the deciding factor.

Personally, I would like non social graph hunting apps to be stronger. Signal would be it. Unfortunately, in Signal I am having less than 10 of my contacts. In WhatsApp, there are more like 100. And all the ones, I am in groups with. So...

Hubert Stettner , 2018-02-16

Oh, and WhatsApp is everywhere, already. There are WhatsApp groups for Kindergarten parents of a kindergarten class, same for school classes, organizations, maybe workplace (not official), you name it. So not having it is possible, but we are a lot closer to the future Volker is mentioning.

Hubert Stettner , 2018-02-16

In my corner of the world the markets are more mixed. Line is strong in Thailand, the Koreans have their own favourite. In the Philippines any user has at least 3 apps to jump around

Stephan H. Wissel, 2018-02-16

I normally use a mix of iMessage and Whatsapp. Whatsapp also reached the grandpa stage. So my parents and grand parents are using it by now.

Unfortunately, some data privacy "evangelist" convinced part of my social circle to use Telegram. Why your data is more safe there, I don't really understand but I have to use it as well to still find my sports group meeting point and time.

I installed Signal once but as I only have 1 person which actually also uses it that is a bit like being the only one with telephone.

Patrick Bohr, 2018-02-17

Hey Patrick, i also have this telephone! But i was able to convince my immediate family of it so now its like closed secret group Chat 😂. And we can blame it on Volker

Chris frei, 2018-02-17

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