It's official. Telegram is now the world's most downloaded app on Google Play Store. It's also now the most preferred instant messaging app for Indians.
Telegram was downloaded over 63 million times in January this year, with 24% of the total downloads coming from India alone, according to the latest report by the US-based mobile analytics firm, Sensor Tower. The downloads have also helped Telegram move from the ninth spot to the top position on Google Play Store.
"Telegram was the most downloaded non-gaming app worldwide for January 2021, with more than 63 million installs, 3.8 times its downloads in January 2020. The countries with the largest number of Telegram installs were India at 24 percent, followed by Indonesia at 10 percent," the Sensor Tower report said.
In fact, Indians have started migrating to Telegram as well as Signal, another instant messaging app, since WhatsApp late last year rolled out notifications informing users about an update in its Terms of Service that would pave the way for the app to share data with its parent company Facebook.
Both Signal and Telegram claim to have "state-of-the-art end-to-end encryption" as part of their services and are free to download. Ironically, Signal is headed by Brian Acton, one of the co-founders of WhatsApp. Signal has features like voice calling, video calling, stickers support and the person-to-person chat interface, similar to that of Apple's iMessage.
"Though WhatsApp is a household name in India, it's clear now that people have started migrating to other more privacy-focused messaging apps. So, it's privacy over convenience, for Indians, particularly the urban class," Delhi-based technology expert Rahul Gaba told UNB last month.
WhatsApp's move to collect user information had prompted electric carmaker Tesla founder Elon Musk to urge social media users globally to switch to Signal. Musk recommended Signal on January 7, following which the shares of the app zoomed more than six-fold on the US bourses in a single day.
Soon after the announcement, Signal app had said in a tweet: "We continue to shatter traffic records and add capacity as more and more people come to terms with how much they dislike Facebook's new terms. If you weren't able to create a new group recently, please try again. New servers are ready to serve you."
Musk, also the founder of SpaceX, has also pledged to invest more in Signal. In response to a tweet by the CEO of an e-commerce business on January 11, Musk said that he will invest again in Signal. "Already donated to Signal a year ago. Will donate more," he tweeted.
WhatsApp users in India say they are more than happy to migrate to Signal and Telegram. "Initially, I had a mental block using Signal, having used WhatsApp for the past 2-3 years. Gradually, I am getting over the mental block. I am also encouraging a number of my friends to switch to Signal at the earliest," said Manasi Roy, a software professional based in Delhi.
Gaba had said that he became apprehensive of WhatsApp's security features since the surfacing of private exchanges between Bollywood celebrities in the media amid the probe into the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput. "It clearly indicated that WhatsApp had been sharing data with Indian probe agencies."