App Annie: Consumers want privacy features in their messaging apps

Consumers are increasingly seeking out apps with enhanced privacy features, according to a new report by App Annie commissioned by Facebook.

Mobile messaging apps download rates have decreased by 4% since 2015, however active engagement continues to grow; messaging app usage is up by 13% (4-year CAGR). In addition to this, users consistently spend 67% more time in messaging apps than in social media apps.

With 50% of time spent on mobile spent in social and messaging apps, consumers around the world are increasingly using those with privacy to stay connected.

Messaging apps that provide privacy features have seen the greatest engagement growth. These apps see on average 30% more active users than the alternatives. Apps like Signal, Telegram, Wickr, and WhatsApp offer privacy features ranging from end-to-end encrypted data transfer to self-destructing messages.

Monitoring the mobile communication landscape

While users of messaging apps with privacy features such as encryption are increasing, the total amount of time users are spending in top messaging apps has decreased by 3.5%.

Time spent is an important indicator of the communications industry over all, but messaging apps also consider frequent app sessions to be a good indicator of overall depth of engagement. The average number of monthly sessions conducted by each user in messaging apps was 273 in 2019. The decrease in time spent with a stable or increasing average number of sessions may indicate increasing efficiency and reliance on the network effect of back-and-forth communication with contacts in text messaging apps. Both metrics are important to consider as you monitor the mobile communication landscape over time.

Why it matters

Consumer preferences for apps offering privacy features are evident across the globe. Total time spent and number of sessions per user within messaging apps with encryption features has been increasing at a faster rate than non-encrypted alternatives worldwide.

How users are communicating through messaging apps with encryption is also changing. The growth of data usage in messaging apps with encryption features is stark, especially compared to those without encryption features. The amount of data (MB) used in each session has increased by 55% from 2015 to H1 2020 — suggesting that messages are more frequently being used to share rich media content like videos, songs, and high-resolution pictures.