Much has been made of WhatsApp’s growing presence in key emerging markets such as India and Brazil, but most of its users are thought to be in Europe. The messaging service is ideally suited to life on the Continent, where there is a Eurozone but no unified telecommunications zone—meaning that historically it’s been absurdly expensive for someone in Germany, for example, to call or text someone in France.
But WhatsApp’s growth has come at the expense of native European social networks. According to research from GlobalWebIndex cited by Macquarie Equities today, some of Europe’s original social networks experienced sharp drops in active user numbers in the last six months of 2013, due to the growth in chat apps such as WhatsApp, and of course the relentless spread of Facebook.
Hyves, an unfortunately named Netherlands-based service that at its peak had 10 million users and was bigger than Facebook among the Dutch, saw the biggest decline — it was effectively shut down and transformed into a gaming site in November. Spain’s Tuenti, also once considered a Facebook rival, Germany’s MeinVZ and France’s Copains d’Avant also experienced major falls.
“They’re just not as appealing to the online audience as they once were,” the report says, “and it’s a trend we expect to see continuing.”