Can Signal Survive the Latest Blow from Elon and Telegram?

Ariel Ariel
May. 10

This is a single insight from This Week in Apps - Cold start. Check out the full article for more insights.

Telegram decided to pick on Signal this week and Elon Musk took a stab at it too, and that led me to look at how the two are performing.

If you follow my insights you know that Telegram started monetizing its users following X and Snapchat, and that revenue is growing consistently.

But what about Signal, the other secure messaging app that Elon Musk and Edward Snowden once pushed for?

I say once because this week Elon changed his tune and is now pushing for Telegram. That can't be great for Signal...

Let's dig into some data, and I think the reason for the feud will become more apparent.

In terms of downloads, it's hard to consider the two competitors. Our estimates show Signal saw 10M downloads so far in 2024 while Telegram saw 124M downloads. And Signal's trend is pretty stagnant.

Signal isn't eating into Telegram's downloads one bit.

Signal has gone on the defensive immediately after a long post from Telegram's CEO was published and later a post from Elon Musk and a few others, but we have to keep something important in mind - Signal is a nonprofit organization that's operating an open-source service while Telegram is a for-profit company that's monetizing its users.

According to our App Intelligence, Telegram generated $36M in net revenue (after store fees) in 2023, and the trend is moving up and to the right. We estimate that Telegram earned $5.3M in April, up 15% from January.

This is just speculation, but I see a for-profit company trying to eliminate the competition. With Signal out, Telegram's only real competitor is WhatsApp - a bigger competitor but also a less trusted one.

What do you think?

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All figures included in this report are estimated. Unless specified otherwise, estimated revenue is always net, meaning it's the amount the developer earned after Apple and Google took their fee.

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