45 per cent of WhatsApp users in India plan to shift to Telegram: Survey

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on January 31, 2021

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Survey says 35 per cent prefer Signal

Messaging platforms Telegram and Signal are gaining further momentum among WhatsApp users in India owing to concerns over the new privacy policy, according to new research by CyberMedia Research (CMR).

According to the CMR Social Safe study report, 79 per cent of the users surveyed are reconsidering using WhatsApp, with 28 per cent planning to leave WhatsApp after implementation of its new policy in May 2021.

41 per cent of survey respondents indicated planning to shift to Telegram, whereas 35 per cent preferred Signal.

WhatsApp earlier this year announced that it has updated its terms of service and privacy policies which were set to take effect on February 8. The Facebook-owned messaging platform has started to notify users regarding the change. The messaging app had then postponed its deadline to implement this policy from February 8 to May 15, 2021 following backlash from users.

“In response to the WhatsApp ‘take it or leave it policy’, consumers ascribed a range of emotions ranging from feeling angry (49 per cent), to not trusting WhatsApp ever again (45 per cent), to feeling a breach of trust (35 per cent),” as per the report.

According to Prabhu Ram, Head- Industry Intelligence Group (IIG), CMR, “We are at the cusp of a potential seminal shift in consumer’s understanding and perspectives around privacy, security and most importantly, brand trust. For consumers, WhatsApp was their own, free and intimate messaging platform. As WhatsApp eventually moves into a much closer integration with the Facebook ecosystem from hereon, it risks an erosion in brand trust and brand loyalty – both key determinants for enduring competitive market advantage.”

“When it comes to messaging with loved ones, or communicating with the world, WhatsApp has been the default choice. However, as our study findings point out, the current debate goes much beyond privacy oriented consumers, with some even contemplating stopping their WhatsApp usage, and considering alternatives, such as Telegram or Signal. Consumer preference is being driven by word of mouth, as well as by the array of features the platform offers,” said Satya Mohanty, Head- Industry Consulting Group (ICG), CMR.

Telegram scored over Signal in terms of awareness (55 per cent) and actual usage (39 per cent). 37 per cent of users have actually used Telegram over the past year, compared to a 10 per cent for Signal. 71 per cent of users said that they felt safe while joining a mass Group or Channel on Telegram as they don’t need to reveal their phone number to strangers.

“I believe the current shift in social networking-cum-messaging platforms is not transient. Driven by network effects, the emerging privacy-focused messaging alternatives can swiftly gain enduring traction. Our research points out that Telegram, in particular, has gained traction amongst users over the past year, much before the recent WhatsApp PR fiasco. While Signal has enjoyed a recent burst in its popularity, it has not been able to scale swiftly enough, and users have faced challenges with it, ” added Prabhu.

Majority of users on WhatsApp and FB Messenger do not feel convenient and safe while storing their chat backup on third party or non-end-to-end encrypted platforms such as Google Drive or iCloud. Among the alternatives, Telegram users retain high trust in the dedicated cloud that Telegram offers (49 per cent).

The study is based responses from 1500 consumers spread across the top eight cities of India, viz., Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Pune.

Published on January 31, 2021

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