Industries in Depth

A million WhatsApp messages were sent in the time it's taken you to read this headline

A woman uses her mobile phone in central Kiev, Ukraine December 13, 2016. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

A lot happens in an internet minute. Such as 243,000 photos uploaded to Facebook. Image: REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

Rob Smith
Writer, Forum Agenda
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Social Media

More than 29 million messages were sent via WhatsApp in 60 seconds on average in 2017. That’s over 1.7 billion messages per hour, or more than 40 billion messages per day.

Even for an app with around 1.3 billion active monthly users, these numbers are staggering.

Clearly, everything can change in an internet minute, as outlined by research from Statista, which analyses the digital landscape, providing a comprehensive overview of the role social media, messaging services and the internet have on our lives.

An incredible number of digital interactions happen worldwide within 60 seconds Image: Statista

And WhatsApp isn’t even the leader of the pack.

Last year, Facebook revealed it has more than two billion active monthly users, meaning that during any given month, over a quarter of the Earth’s population logs in to their account at least once. Data from Statista shows over 243,000 photos were uploaded to the social media site within 60 seconds in 2017.

Active monthly users across US-based social media Image: Statista

And users of Twitter, which has around 330 million active monthly users, sent around 350,000 tweets in this time, while over 18,000 matches were made on dating app Tinder.

Have we reached peak smartphone?

Considering over 2.5 billion people own a smartphone, it is hardly surprising so many people are updating their statuses, sending tweets, and swiping right – even within a minute. Our access to the digital world is also expanding; the number of internet users worldwide increased from 3.3 billion in 2016 to 3.5 billion last year, which is about half the world’s population.

But the way we access the internet is changing. While smartphone sales have been outstripping personal computer purchases since 2011, the market seems to have plateaued, as (just) 1.46 billion smartphones were sold last year. This is down from 1.47 billion in 2016.

Smartphone sales peaked at around 1.47 billion in 2016 Image: Statista

Perhaps this shouldn’t come as a surprise. As technology advances and new innovations come on the market, what was once heralded as a breakthrough quickly becomes obsolete. Very few people still use a flip phone, for example.

Clocking up sales

The Statista report shows that as smartphone sales stagnate, sales of wearables, such as fitness monitors, Bluetooth headsets and smartwatches are forecast to grow by around 13% annually between now and 2021.

Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch in 2014 Image: REUTERS/Stephen Lam

Indeed, over half (54%) of the 5,000 American consumers surveyed by advisory service NPD ConnectedIntelligence say they use smartwatches to receive and reply to texts and notifications, while around 45% track their activity.

Most smartwatches also have a range of other functions, including being used for phone calls, as a remote control for music, and to check the news – all of which get used to varying degrees, the survey shows.

And while there may be no silver bullet to declining smartphones sales, perhaps greater integration with rising technologies could provide a second bite at the cherry for phone developers.

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