WhatsApp is Finally Starting to Dominate in the United States. Here’s Why.

The leading global messaging app is having its breakout moment in the U.S. with some help from Tim Cook and a bit of planning.

Alex Kantrowitz

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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.

For many, it’s become the default messenger, a drama-free alternative to Apple and Android’s blue vs. green bubble wars, and a fast way to keep in touch with contacts worldwide. If the current trend holds, WhatsApp may even threaten Apple Messages as the country’s most popular messaging app, a once unthinkable prospect.

WhatsApp’s U.S. rise didn’t happen by accident, though. It was part luck, timing, and strategy. Here’s a look at why the world’s most popular messaging app is finally surging in the United States:

Apple Opens the Door

Tim Cook handed Meta a gift by insisting that Apple’s Messages synced poorly with Android. As text messages grew richer — with reactions and special effects — the annoyance of using SMS apps across the two platforms grew. Green and blue text bubbles were tolerable, but seeing “X Friend Liked Your Message” in plain text, with no thumbs up, made traditional messaging apps less appealing for everyone. People started looking for something compatible across platforms — iPhone users included — and they found WhatsApp. Today, most of WhatsApp’s users in the U.S. are iPhone owners, the company tells me, showing that Apple’s loyal customers are moving away from its default software toward something that works seamlessly with Android.

The Rise of Large Messaging Groups

WhatsApp’s become indispensable for large messaging groups, which have overwhelminglty replaced email chains. WhatsApp groups for parents of schoolkids are now a major WhatsApp use case, for instance. Parents use the groups to keep tabs on their kids, coordinate events, and gossip. When they become friends, they use WhatsApp to communicate privately, boosting the app’s usage. WhatsApp’s cross-OS compatibility is a major reason why it’s…

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Alex Kantrowitz

Veteran journalist covering Big Tech and society. Subscribe to my newsletter here: https://bigtechnology.substack.com.