Report: WhatsApp passes Facebook to become most popular messaging service

Facebook has been overtaken by WhatsApp as the most popular social messaging service on mobiles, according to a report that also reveals chat apps have become the dominant way of staying in touch on mobiles.

The report by On Device Research surveyed 3,759 smartphone owners in five countries to understand the popularity of social messaging compared to calling, texting and email on mobile phones.

Since the last time a similar survey was carried out by the research firm, WhatsApp has surpassed Facebook as the leader in social messaging apps. 44 per cent of those questioned reported using the app at least once a week, compared to only 35 per cent who use Facebook Messenger.

Blackberry's BBM only registered 17 per cent of users who use it at least once a week, though it proved to be surprisingly popular with users in Indonesia and South Africa. The decision to release BBM as a standalone app seems to have paid off for the beleaguered smart phone company, as 37 per cent of users in Indonesia and 34 per cent of users in South Africa - who do not own a Blackberry - use the service at least once a week.

The research also revealed that social messaging was the most popular way for mobile phone users to stay in touch, with 86 per cent of respondents claiming to use chat apps on a daily basis.

"This trend will have interesting implications on mobile operators," the report said. "More and more people are upgrading from feature phones to smartphones accelerating the move from traditional calling and SMS to social messaging."

Earlier this year, WhatsApp reported that it had processed 27 billion messages in a 24 hour period, breaking its previous record of 18 billion messages set last New Year's Eve.