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According to research firm App Annie, WhatsApp has surpassed Facebook’s own marquee app to become the most popular by the Menlo Park-based social networking firm. App Annie’s annual ‘State of Mobile’ report, stated that in Sep. 2018, WhatsApp for the first time had more monthly active users worldwide than the Facebook app.

To be sure, the Facebook app was the top app in 2018, according to App Annie—if we take an average of each month of the year. However, in several markets including; India, Indonesia, U.K., Turkey, Switzerland, Spain, Singapore, Russia, Netherlands, Mexico, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Germany, Finland, and Brazil — the Facebook app accepted defeat to its sister-app. Interestingly, Facebook managed to keep its stand in the U.S.—with Facebook and Messenger apps taking the top spots.

Venturebeat reached out to App Annie for a comment on its findings but the research firm declined to comment.

Venturebeat further reports that Facebook seems to have become increasingly reluctant to share WhatsApp’s growth story. The company’s Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg—while delivering Q3 2018 results didn’t break out WhatsApp’s active user base, only sharing reach of other Facebook apps.

Facebook bought WhatsApp in 2014 at USD$19 billion when the messaging app had a rough estimate of 450 monthly million active users. Now the app records about 1.5 billion (2017 findings) monthly active users.

Over the past two years WhatsApp has grown 30%, while Facebook and Messenger app stand at 20% and 15% respectively. The company’s photo and video app, Instagram is also doing amazingly well and grew 35% over the past two years.

WhatsApp grew 30 percent in 2018, whereas Facebook saw just 20 percent growth.
WhatsApp grew 30 percent in 2018, whereas Facebook saw just 20 percent growth.

Notably, Apptopia last month published its global app downloads report showing WhatsApp was downloaded more times than the Facebook app. SensorTower, another research firm did agree the results published by Apptopia.

“The exponential growth of WhatsApp in recent years has presented unique challenges for Facebook, which makes the vast majority of its revenue by selling ads,” says Venturebeat.

Now for now we know WhatsApp is ad free, but it was reported in 2018 that Facebook was planning on bringing ads to WhatsApp statues. This might happen any time this year.

Wall Street Journal reported, citing WhatsApp officials, that WhatsApp Status will start showing ads in 2019 and will be powered by Facebook’s native advertising system.

On the other hand, Facebook also launched WhatsApp for business app, but that app is seeing slow adoption, so it remains unclear how much money if any Facebook is making from it. The app in April reported to have 3 million active users globally.