Google’s Gmail service and Facebook’s WhatsApp instant messaging app have both roped in over a billion monthly users.
Each service now has around a seventh of the world’s population on its books, indicating the vast reach of digital services that span mobile and web applications.
Google chief executive Sundar Pichai revealed the Gmail figure in an earnings call transcribed by Seeking Alpha.
“On our last call, I shared that six of our consumer products - Search, Android, Maps, Chrome, YouTube and Google Play - all have over a billion monthly active users. I'm pleased to share that Gmail now joins those ranks, crossing that number last quarter. Of course, all of these products are very popular and continue to grow rapidly on mobile,” he said.
The huge number of users across Google's various ad-funded services makes it no surprise that the company has seen strong advertising revenue growth.
Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, meanwhile, revealed WhatsApp’s monthly user base growth in a Facebook post, noting how the company still plans to swell the instant messaging service it acquired in 2014 for $19bn.
“We're going to work to connect more people around the world and make it easier to communicate with businesses. There are only a few services that connect more than a billion people. This milestone is an important step towards connecting the entire world,” he said.
WhatsApp’s user base has also surpassed that of Facebook’s native instant messaging service, Messenger, which has around 800 million active monthly users.
This could raise questions as to whether Facebook is allowing WhatsApp to cannibalise some of Messenger's audience.
But Facebook is adding business-oriented features to Messenger and developing the M for Messenger smart assistant, so Messenger may end up offering a range of services that go beyond WhatsApp's instant messaging.
The reach of the Google and Facebook services shows the so-called ‘information age’ coming to fruition as digital services connect vast swathes of the human population and enable the sharing of data and communication on an unparalleled scale.
Facebook’s Internet.org initiative is looking at bringing internet connectivity to unconnected areas of the world, and the user bases of these services will only increase.
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