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Facebook's copycats appear to be crushing Snapchat's user numbers

  • Facebook's Instagram Stories has 200 million DAUs, WhatsApp Status has 175 million
  • Snapchat's last report said it had 161 million, and analysts expect around
  • But research from AppAnnie suggests Snapchat still reaches many users that Facebook products miss.
Mark Zuckerberg
Getty Images
Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook released some user information on Wednesday — and it seems that at least some of its Snapchat-rival products are working.

Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg told analysts that Instagram Stories has 200 million daily active users, and WhatsApp Status has more than 175 million daily active users. He did not disclose the number of users for Facebook Messenger's Day feature.

"We're going to keep putting video at the center of all of these services," Zuckerberg said during the earnings report.

By comparison, Snap had 161 million daily active users at the end of last year. The ephemeral media company is expected to report earnings later this month, but analysts are not hopeful that Snap will catch up to Facebook's base.

Brian White of Drexel Hamilton, who has a "buy" rating on shares of Snapchat, expects Snapchat to hit 171 daily active users in the first quarter of the year, keeping it behind Facebook in terms of that metric. Still, White said in a recent research note, "Snap has a cachet with the millennial crowd that will be difficult for other platforms to garner."

Write wrote, "Like Apple in its younger days, we view Snap as a disruptive innovator with a laser-like focus."

Michael Graham, analyst at Canaccord Genuity, is less optimistic, forecasting 164.5 million daily active users for Snap's March quarter, citing a slowdown in user growth in the fourth quarter.

Still, Snap shares rallied about 1 percent after Facebook's report.

New research released on Wednesday by App Annie shows that many Snap users — 35 percent — cannot be reached on Facebook on any given day. The figures are even higher — 46 percent and 58 percent, respectively — for Facebook's Instagram and Messenger.

And Snap's users are remarkably engaged, spending 25 to 30 minutes a day on the platform. Users younger than 25 visited Snapchat over 20 times every day on average by the end of last year.

Facebook has pushed back on the idea that its younger users are fleeing for Snapchat, noting in the earnings report that "while user-provided data indicates a decline in usage among younger users, this age data is unreliable because a disproportionate number of our younger users register with an inaccurate age."

Still, Zuckerberg is keen on making Snap's hallmark augmented reality features central to Facebook's future. Zuckerberg said that he thinks there will be a point where augmented reality — led by Facebook, rather than Snap's Lenses — replaces TVs and other physical objects.

"There are lots of different apps that have cameras in it, or where a individual developers build an app that has a single camera effect," Zuckerberg said on the conference call. "I think we were a little bit late to the trend initially around making cameras the center of how sharing works, but I do think at this point we're pretty much ahead in terms of the technology that we're building .... A lot of people are using these products across our family of apps, and I would expect us to continue leading the way forward on this from this point on."