Telegram is aiming to overtake WhatsApp in mobile messaging

Reaches one billion downloads and enters the top dozen of applications

PHOTO/REUTERS  -   Telegram

It has become the most widely used instant messaging application in the eastern geographic area. But it continues to gain ground. To the point of challenging WhatsApp's reign. Telegram has just reached one billion downloads, according to Sensor Tower, the Californian company specialising in information on the mobile application market. Unconfirmed associations with the Putin empire, but strongly denied by the APP itself, Telegram is the dominant application in India, Russia and Indonesia, but the pace of growth in the Western world is unstoppable.

Since its birth eight years ago, and with its head office in Dubai, with no service from Russia, Telegram has become a powerful rival to WhatsApp. And the pace is accelerating. In the first quarter of the year, downloads increased by 61% compared to the first half of last year.

Un usuario actualiza la aplicación WhatsApp de Facebook en su teléfono móvil, el 6 de noviembre de 2020
AFP/INDRANIL MUKHERJEE - A user updates Facebook's WhatsApp application on his mobile phone, on November 6, 2020.

WhatsApp's lead in instant messaging seems solid, judging by figures published by Statista at the beginning of the year, in which it was listed as the leader with 2 billion active users. Telegram then had 500 million and was ranked fifth, behind Facebook Messenger's 1.3 billion, WeChat's 1.213 billion and QQ Mobile's 617 million.

But there seems to be no end to Telegram's capacity for innovation. Updates are monthly, and this September it unveiled a real bombshell for social networks: the possibility for each user to create their own TV station, thanks to video calls with unlimited viewers.

"Start a live stream on a channel or a video chat in a group, both compatible with an unlimited number of viewers. The power to make your own TV station is here, in your pocket," the company said in a blog post about the new feature.

Un usuario comprueba función de WhatsApp
AFP/INDRANIL MUKHERJEE - A user checks WhatsApp's function.
Innovative advances

An advance that has not taken long to be replicated by Signal, the third messaging platform competing for disenchanted WhasApp customers. The strategy of signing up dissatisfied customers is one of the hallmarks exhibited by one of the company's founders, Pavel Durov, who accused WhatsApp of spying on its users, while boasting of the privacy that existed on Telegram.

The digital The Indian Express, clearly reflects what the technological difference is between the two messaging platforms. "There are many interesting features that Telegram offers, such as screen sharing, message scheduling, personal cloud storage, chat folders, which are missing in WhatsApp."

La app Telegram, instalada en un Smartphone
AFP/ALENXANDER NEMENOV - The Telegram app, installed on a Smartphone

The global messaging battle is raging, despite some media reports that 6 billion people have downloaded WhatsApp. According to some sources, the road ahead for Telegram is going to be long and winding. Another market analysis company Apptopia indicates that 500 million people use WhatsApp every day, compared to only 36 million for Telegram.