Audio Messages are way more popular (globally) than you think. Why is that?

Throughout my travels I’ve met some a lot of people, from all different demographics and backgrounds, from all over the world.

In my experience, at least, most people I meet are using WhatsApp to exchange numbers and communicate with each other. Facebook comes out at #2.

After digging through a few articles I stumbled across a study done by SimilarWeb that examined messaging behaviors in 187 countries. With no surprise, WhatsApp claimed #1 in 109 of them, mostly in Europe & Latin America.

Here’s is their breakdown taken from the article —

For anyone that’s traveled abroad you likely already know this to be true. But have you taken notice to behaviors and how people are using the service?

I couldn’t find any data to support this, but from my own observations I’m seeing a lot of folks (let’s say aged 18–30) using the voice texting function. Nearly all messaging apps have this, including iMessage, where you can push down and record yourself speaking and then send that over as an audio file. *Note this is different than services that transcribe your message into written text, like in iMessage.

I started asking around as to why this was such common behavior. The two most popular responses were:

  • It’s just nice to hear someone’s voice.
  • I message my friends a lot and don’t want to type everything out, especially when I’m on the go.

I suspect there are other factors here, though. Things like:

  • Wanting to be more intimate with a friend, loved one, or family. Seems to align particularly well with Latino culture (in my opinion).
  • Reaping the benefits of the unambiguity of voice, without committing to the awkwardness of a traditional phone call.
  • If you’re someone that is often juggling back and forth between your native tongue and, say, english, it’s probably easier to get away with grammar mistakes in voice rather than a text that can be read slowly and analyzed.

I’m quite sure that Facebook, who owns WhatsApp, is constantly mining through the data to better understand how we as consumers communicate with one another. It will be interesting to see how this effects their overall strategy as these tech giants continue to compete more fiercely in voice related products and features.

I started using the feature for myself and have started to enjoy it. So don’t be surprised if you hear my voice next time we decided to “text” each other.

Thanks for your attention,

Stu

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