While Facebook agreed to pay up to $19 billion for WhatsApp, its rivals may benefit from an influx of new users as a result.
Telegram Messenger confirmed 4.95 million people signed up for their app within one day. Telegram suddenly became #1 most downloaded iPhone app in 48 countries. This is an amazing number for an application which only had 100,000 daily active users six months ago. It seems no coincidence that the 5 million signups happened just one day after a high-profile outage for WhatsApp. However, Telegram was also not immune from technical problems over the weekend struggling to cope with the huge amount of new users. As a result, its European cluster experienced a 2-hour downtime – the developers admit that it takes time to add servers.
Telegram operators explained they expected 1 million registrations per day max, not 5 million. They would rather have a gradual organic growth, as they planned to be ready for that kind of growth in 2 months only.
The messaging app launched for iPhone last August, then Android in October. It is operated by a team based in Berlin, but its financial backer is the owner of the largest Russian social network vKontakte (InTouch), Pavel Durov.
Pavel and his brother Nikolai set out their vision for the encrypted messaging application on the website. The brothers announced that Telegram isn’t meant to bring profit, and promised the app will never sell adverts or accept outside investment. The Durovs said Telegram can never be sold either. The owners explained they are not building a new userbase, but are rather building a messenger for the people. Pavel Durov supplied Telegram with a generous donation via his Digital Fortress fund, so the developers have enough money for the time being. If they run out of that money, the app can invite its users to donate or add non-essential paid options.
It is known that Telegram app has an open API for other developers so that they could build their own apps based on its technology, including versions for Windows, Mac and Linux machines, and Windows Phone smartphones.
In the meantime, industry observers point out that Telegram isn’t the only encrypted messaging application that sees a boom in signups after WhatsApp’s acquisition by Facebook. For example, Swiss startup Threema also doubled its user base within 24 hours, with 200,000 new users paying €1.79 each for the app.