Thursday, February 01, 2007

Usage Stats From the Major IM Networks

Yesterday I saw a post from the Windows Live Messenger team where they said that they recently went over 30 million simultaneous users. Now, lots of statistics are offered up by the major IM networks when referring to their respective audiences, but the two that I like to focus on are simultaneous online users and IMs/day. Claims about "active users" or "total users" can be hard to compare, since it all depends on how you count. Simultaneous users and IMs are clear indications of how many users are stressing the system on a daily basis.

The WLM post got me interested on whether I could determine these numbers for all the major messaging services. A little Googling, and I was able to come up with numbers or reasonable estimates for most of the major services; I've included links to the sources I used. (Google does not release user numbers, so Gtalk is absent from this chart.) Here's the breakdown:

ServiceActive UsersMax Simultaneous Users
Total IMs/dayDominant Regions
Windows Live
Europe, Latin America, East Asia
China, South Africa
US, Israel

India, ?
East Asia, Europe

I couldn't find exact data for some of these numbers, so extrapolated from what I did have. Readers, if you have recent public data for the estimated values (especially Yahoo), I'd be interested to see it.

Nevertheless, from these numbers, it looks like WLM is about as big as Yahoo+AOL+Skype combined. That's a formidable lead in a space that is fairly mature.


Anonymous said...

The statistics are interesting, but I'm more interested in the QoS of the IM sessions. Are there statistics on that? Do more IMs/Day equal more relay servers? More reliability? I still feel that one chooses their IM network based on what friends use, work dictates, etc. - not on which network is technically better or has deeper U.S. penetration, etc.

But I'd love to see statistics relating reliability of service, least latency of response and a system which has highest *network* security and virii-resistance, etc. Not based on specific client attacks.

Chris Harrison said...

Honestly, I'm a little surprised to hear that Windows (Live) Messenger accounts for so many users... Very few of the clients I work with utilize it. Most tend to use AOL Instant Messenger.

Nevertheless... these are interesting statistics. I wish more people would use gTalk (or gTalk would have interoperability with AIM so I can drop that client like a bad habit).

Osman said...

Chris, well these are worldwide stats. WLM does have a very strong global presence, but if you looked at the US only, I am sure the numbers would look very different.

Interesting info nevertheless. Worldwide statistics do matter.

Rich said...

osman, what difference does an IM network's U.S. usage make in selecting it? If I'm in the U.S. and chat with people who are also mostly in the U.S. does that mean my QoS will be better? Which IM service has the best: QoS, least dropping, fastest response time, highest-security and least viral attacks? For that matter, which IM Service in *any* country has those characteristics? Because that's what I'll use then - and that's the network I'll get my friends/family/work contacts to also use (in addition to whatever they currently use.)

osman said...

The size of the network is a major factor in the success of any social networking platform and also will drive the growth of said platform. In my opinion, QoS for all 3 big networks in the US is good (Yahoo!, WLM, and AIM). People are going to go to the network where their friends are. People generally don't start brand new social networks from scratch...they want to get in on a community that is already established. Along the same vein, it is very difficult to get people to switch networks because they don't want to leave their friends behind, and they can't switch their friends because their friends don't want to leave their friends behind, etc. etc.

Rich said...

Yup - that makes good sense osman. I must admit I've never experienced any dropping on any of the major IM networks. Skype's IM is the only service which has significantly delayed an IM session. One other factor of interest is the targeting of a particular IM network by Virii-scum. does a good job when you sort by networks to show which is most commonly targeted. Yahoo has the fewest, then Aim, then WLM/MSN - of course WLM/MSN is almost double the load.

Isaac said...

In China, it's very common to see one user has several QQ id and make them all active to get "online" credit. So its very hard to see the real data of QQ users.

Hans said...

Another estimate:

"The Jabber Software Foundation (JSF) estimates that there are ten million worldwide users of XMPP with more than 260,000 XMPP-based presence servers downloaded globally. The JSF also notes that its growing user base exceeds that of ICQ's by several million."


Due to its distributed and open structure, the XMPP network probably cannot count simultanous users or messages per day. It is like counting e-mail traffic...

sten said...

Skype now went over 10M concurrent users mark: