Telegram, Signal Saw Huge Spike In Global App Installs: Thanks To WhatsApp Backlash!

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Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) owned instant messaging giant WhatsApp encountered massive backlash in January after rolling out a new privacy policy.

The social media giant wants users to accept the updated policy, which explicitly stated WhatsApp would be sharing user information with its parent company Facebook. As a result, many WhatsApp users started fleeing to other more privacy-focused alternatives such a Telegram and Signal.

According to data collected by Sensor Tower Store Intelligence, WhatsApp global installs declined 43% YoY in the first four months of 2021. However, it still managed to stay ahead of its competitors by reaching overall 172.3 million downloads.


During the same period, Telegram’s global installs climbed 98% YoY to more than 161 million, while Signal’s first-time installs surged 1,192% YoY to 64.6 million!

Note here that although Telegram and Signal both witness a spike in adoption in January, the velocity of downloads has since slowed down.

Telegram’s downloads increased from just from 16.6 million in January 2020 to 63.5 million in January 2021, showing an astonishing 282.5% YoY growth. However, after that the app witnessed month-over-month decline in its global installs. In fact, in April 2021, Telegram monthly global installs declined to 26.2 million, compared to nearly 27 million from a year ago period.

Source: Sensor Tower

After the surge in installations in January 2021, Telegram and Signal’s installs are normalizing, signifying that both the apps saw an influx of interest only due to WhatsApp’s unexpected move of rolling out the updated privacy policy.

That being said, even though the surge has slowed, Signal is still witnessing high install numbers.


According to Sensor Tower data, the global installs of Signal app increased an mind-blogging 5,001% YoY, from just 992,000 in January 2020 to 50.6 million in January 2021. Surprisingly, Signal’s installs fell 86% M-o-M to slightly over 7 million in the following month.

Even though Signal’s install has declined every month since the January spike, it has experienced consistent YoY growth each month. In April 2021, it saw 2.8 million global downloads, more than double the 1.3 million downloads it recorded in April 2020.

As for WhatsApp, prior to receiving backlash for its updated privacy policy, the app saw its first-time installs declining with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. As per Sensor Tower data, WhatsApp first-time installs fell 28% M-o-M in April 2020, to reach 55.2 million.

Source: Sensor Tower

It now remains to be seen what percentage of users will abandon WhatsApp once the deadline for opting into its privacy policy ends on May 15th, even though the company has mentioned it will give users a grace period wherein they will be able to retain limited functionality.

And when it comes to consumers who have already made up their mind to flee from WhatsApp, Signal and Telegram are the only two alternatives that can help somewhat replace WhatsApp and its features. We will keep you updated on all future developments. Until then, stay tuned.


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