Sarah Pekala

Messaging apps are popular all over the globe. Last year, the number of messages sent via WhatsApp surpassed SMS for the first time. Messaging apps have adapted beyond simple two-way texting into platforms for ordering a taxi, checking into a flight, or purchasing movie tickets. Smartphone users in Indonesia are some of the most active messaging app users in the world. 92% of smartphone users in Indonesia use social apps like Facebook or Facebook Messenger daily, with 98% of these social users communicating via messaging apps daily.


In June 2015, we looked at the top messaging apps in Indonesia and found some interesting trends. Since then, a lot has changed in LINE and BlackBerry’s world. As this rapidly evolving industry moves forward in one of the fastest growing countries in the world, we were curious, what’s different 17 months later?


List of Top Installed and Used Apps in Indonesia in September 2016

Click on the image above to view an enlarged version.

Amidst BlackBerry’s decline, BBM is still on top

2016 was a turbulent year for BlackBerry. In June, BlackBerry’s proprietary app BBM was acquired by Emtek in a deal worth $207M. In September, BlackBerry announced that will outsource handset manufacturing in order to focus solely on software development. Despite the challenges, these changes haven’t affected BBM’s popularity in Indonesia. 17 months later, the app is still the top used and installed messaging app in the country, with 1.6x more usage per daily active user (DAU) than the other nine apps in the top used list combined. BBM is also the second-highest grossing Communication Android app in Indonesia according to App Annie on October 31. We will be interested to see if BlackBerry’s new focus on software will affect BBM’s rank among messaging apps in the country over time.

WhatsApp is making an impression in Indonesia

One thing has changed over the last 17 months—WhatsApp. The Facebook-owned messaging app has climbed from number five in the top used and installed lists, to the number two used and number three installed messaging app in Indonesia. In fact, since Hangouts is often a pre-installed app on most Android devices, measuring its popularity by installs can be misleading. This would rank WhatsApp even higher than it currently does today.


WhatsApp is installed on 58% of smartphones in Indonesia


How has WhatsApp become so popular in Indonesia? For one, WhatsApp is a global messaging giant. It’s installed on 94% of smartphones in Brazil, 95% in India, and 92% in Mexico. In September this year, it was installed on 58% of smartphones in Indonesia—a 287% increase from September 2015. Secondly, the network effects of messaging apps could be shifting users away from BBM to other messaging apps. Network effects—an app’s prevalence amongst a user’s social contacts—drove users in Indonesia to continue using BBM as BlackBerry’s market share decreased. Between July 2015 and July 2016, Android market share grew in Indonesia from 69% to 74%, while BlackBerry’s market share fell from 9% to 4%. These network effects could be why WhatsApp’s DAU has reached BBM level in Indonesia.

2016 is LINE’s year

2016 is proving to be the year of LINE. The Japanese messaging app’s IPO was the largest on the United States stock market in 2016. In Indonesia, the app has 3x more usage per DAU than WhatsApp, despite sitting just behind it in the ranking of the top used apps by DAU. So it’s no surprise that Line is watching Indonesia. According to the company’s third quarter earnings report, Japan makes up 40% of LINE’s users, but the company is eyeing Indonesia for future growth. LINE’s chief executive, Takeshi Idezawa, recently said that the company would aim to capture BBM’s market share in Indonesia by the end of the year. The app has slipped ever so slightly in the rankings over the last 17 months, but its penetration has stayed steady, between 50-55%.

As more messaging apps vie for usage in Indonesia, expect to see network effects becoming even more important. 61% of mCent users in Indonesia report that they downloaded an app because they heard about it through a friend.


Jana leverages these network effects to effectively advertise your app to an engaged smartphone audience in emerging market countries.