eMarketer’s latest estimate of mobile messaging usage in Russia predicts 42.3 million people in the country will use VK Messenger at least monthly in 2017, a 13.8% gain over 2016. By 2021, that number will grow to 54.1 million.
VK Messenger is a built-in messaging feature of Russia’s leading homegrown social network, the Facebook-like VK (formerly Vkontakte). VK’s large mobile user base—said by VK-owner Mail.ru to be 78 million as of December 2016—has spurred Messenger usage, with 63.6% of Russia’s smartphone users and 90.5% of its mobile messaging users expected to access the service at least once a month this year, according to eMarketer’s latest estimate.
Unlike Facebook’s requirement on mobile devices to download Facebook Messenger to send messages, VK users can send messages from within the app.
According to May 2017 mobile app traffic analyzed by Mediascope (formerly TNS Russia), 26.0% of Russia’s population ages 12 to 64 accessed the VK app daily—a higher daily usage rate than any other mobile app in the country. The nearest competitors were WhatsApp at 22.7% and Viber at 14.5%.
It is worth noting that Mediascope’s data does not specify if users exclusively visited VK for messaging. What’s more, it found WhatsApp led VK in monthly visitor reach. However, it is clear that VK messaging is frequent; citing J’son and Partners figures, Mail.ru says that 5 billion messages are sent daily via the service.
VK Messenger, along with WhatsApp, are driving mobile messaging growth in Russia. Whereas VK Messenger will add 11.8 million users during eMarketer’s 2017–2021 forecast period, the country’s total mobile messaging user base will expand by 10.0 million.