WhatsApp eclipses 250M active users, now bigger than Twitter

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WhatsApp has surpassed the 250 million active user milestone, the over-the-top messaging services firm told The Wall Street Journal.

WhatsApp has not previously disclosed active user metrics: Earlier this month, the startup processed a record-high 27 billion messages in one day, up from its previous best of 18 billion on Dec. 31, 2012. At 250 million active users, WhatsApp is now larger than Twitter, which late last year crossed the 200 million active user threshold, and is quickly closing in on Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT)-owned OTT rival Skype, which boasts 280 million monthly active users.

The WhatsApp Messenger app enables users to share text messages, voice notes and photos with contacts across the globe, without international messaging fees. WhatsApp has chosen to avoid advertising support, billing Android, BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) and Windows Phone users $0.99 per year after a one-year free trial period. The firm has traditionally offered its Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone app for a one-time download fee of $0.99, but WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum recently said the startup will shift its iOS business to the recurring subscription model later this year, adding the pricing change will apply solely to new iOS users.

This spring, WhatsApp introduced its first-ever dedicated instant messaging button via Nokia's (NYSE:NOK) new social-themed Asha 210 handset. Users can launch WhatsApp Messenger directly from contact cards in the device's phonebook, leveraging its QWERTY keyboard for more efficient typing. WhatsApp will offer free service on all Asha 210 phones incorporating the Messenger button throughout the lifespan of each device.

WhatsApp's exponential growth poses major challenges for conventional carrier SMS services: Consumers across the globe will send 41 billion over-the-top mobile messages per day by the end of 2013, compared to an average of 19.5 billion peer-to-peer SMS, according to a recent forecast issued by research firm Informa. OTT traffic has already eclipsed SMS in terms of daily messaging volume: Consumers sent an average of 19.1 billion OTT messages per day in 2012, compared to 17.6 billion messages via SMS.

For more:
- read this Wall Street Journal article

Related articles:
WhatsApp processes record-high 27 billion messages in one day
WhatsApp's first dedicated messaging button arrives via Nokia's Asha 210
WhatsApp CEO: We're handling 20 billion messages per day
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Report: WhatsApp extending premium subscriptions to Apple's iOS
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