Telegram: The Most Downloaded Messaging App In January 2021

Ever since WhatsApp rolled out its latest privacy policy rules, according to which users' data can be shared with Facebook, people have started deleting the app and going for its substitutes.


With over 63 million installs, Telegram became the most downloaded non-gaming app in the world in January 2021, overtaking Tiktok. According to app analytics firm Sensor Towers, India recorded the largest number of installs at 24%, followed by Indonesia at 10%. The evolution and success of this cloud-based instant messaging app is quite a story.

What led to the surge?

This comes amidst the Facebook-owned messaging app WhatsApp’s privacy row. The popularity of Telegram increased dramatically after WhatsApp started sending notifications to over 400 million users in January 2021 asking them to either accept its new policy or see their accounts removed from 8 February, 2021. More than the ultimatum it was the contents of the privacy policy that made users uncomfortable. Facing a huge backlash in the country, WhatsApp deferred its new data privacy policy by three months and said that no one will lose his or her account from 8 February, 2021 for not accepting the updated terms of service. However, the damage was already done with people jumping ship to Telegram and its like Signal.

Telegram’s journey

Telegram was started in 2013 by the brothers Nikolai and Pavel Durov, the creators of VKontakte known as VK, the largest social networking site of Russia. Nikolai created the MTProto protocol that is the basis for the messenger, while Pavel provided financial support and infrastructure through his Digital Fortress fund, with partner Axel Neff joining as a second co-founder.

Journey of Telegram application

The battle 

Even though WhatsApp has more than 1.3 billion users worldwide, the features offered by Telegram like secret chat, self-destructing messages, encrypted backup ensure more secured chats. Apart from security features, Telegram is also ahead of WhatsApp in terms of other features like Dark Mode and larger group capacity. Every month Telegram added a new feature that seems to really understand what people want or need. Besides all this, it seems to be the only real competition to the giant owned by Facebook. Positioning of the product played the most vital role in Telegram’s success. In the beginning of 2010, there was a lot of news about leaks of personal data, spying on users and abusive use of users’ personal data. The company took advantage of the situation with the request for secured online services and branded the product, hence creating a unique identity.

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According to app analytics firm Sensor Towers, India recorded the largest number of installs at 24%, followed by Indonesia at 10%.

Naina Sood
Naina Sood
Naina was former staff at Dutch Uncles, she writes on business-life-cycle, funding, small businesses and start-ups.

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