It might have caused anger and dismay among the global Facebook community but according to Parks Associated research, Facebook Messenger is the most popular messaging app in the US based on its number of users.
Over half (55%) of smartphone owners say that they use it, and 45% say that they use Skype, making it the second most popular messaging app.
"These two apps are dominant in this high-growth area. At the beginning of 2014, 34% of U.S. smartphone owners used a messaging app on a monthly basis. The difficulty, especially for new entrants, is turning user growth into revenues," said Tejas Mehta, research analyst, Parks Associates.
In its latest report -- "The Post-SMS War for Mobile Communications: Technology" -- the research and analytics firm forecasts that by 2018 67 trillion messages a year will be sent globally via apps while the traditional SMS, which seemed so revolutionary in the 1990s, will be moving closer to irrelevancy with just 6.7 trillion messages sent.
With the exception of Facebook Messenger, the adoption of which has been forced on users by Facebook's decision to remove the ability to send messages from within the main Facebook smartphone app, this growing popularity is being driven primarily by cost.
Unlike traditional SMS messages, messaging via an app is technically free. And because it is free it is being used more often. Studies in the UK have found that Millennials in particular are using messaging apps like WhatsApp to conduct conversations in real time, sending one-and-two-word messages as if writing out the transcript of a telephone conversation.
And of course they're also being used to share potentially risqué content, momentarily. Snapchat is the third most popular app according to Parks Associates and research from ComScore conducted in August reached the same conclusion. It found that with a 32.9% share of 18-34-year-olds, only Facebook and Instagram were more popular among the US Millennial demographic.
And as messaging grows even more popular, the services and features that different apps offer are starting to expand and evolve to increase engagement and user numbers. "Very soon messaging will be cloud-based and delivered as a service," Mehta said. "This trend will clip SMS revenues for mobile carriers, traditionally a key revenue source for these companies."
For example, Line, a hugely popular messaging app in Asia can also be used for online auctions and for communicating with LG's range of smart home appliances. WhatsApp is about to add voice calls to its messaging app, and Facebook is continuing to try and create a competitor to Snapchat.