UK interest in messaging apps lags behind emerging markets

August 21, 2013, 9:14 AM GMT+0

Only half of Britons with smartphones use instant messaging, compared with nearly 90% of Brazilian and 75% of Russian consumers

New research finds that, despite having more internet connected smartphones, UK interest in latest messaging apps lags behind emerging markets

New international research by mobile interaction specialist tyntec reveals that, despite having the highest number of people using smartphones, the UK lags behind Russia and Brazil in terms of usage of the latest messaging apps. From the people participating in the YouGov survey, it’s been discovered that despite the majority of Brits having internet connected mobile phones, only 46% use mobile instant messaging, as compared to 88% of people in Brazil, and 75% in Russia. In addition, only 33% of people in the UK showed an interest in apps such as Nimbuzz and WhatsApp – compared with 71% of Brazilians and 52% of Russians. This picture of using legacy services is reinforced by the fact that three times more people in the UK exclusively use SMS only (35%), compared to Brazil (13%) and Russia (15%).

In its second annual “Mobile Messaging and Social Networking Survey”, tyntec finds that Brazil is more socially connected, with 77% using social networks via their mobile device; more than any other country participating in the survey. Russia closely follows with 69%, then UK (65%) and lastly the US, with 53% claiming to use social networks via their mobile device. Compared to other countries, Brazil also has the highest daily usage of SMS, with 12% sending at least 30 texts per day.

The July 2013 YouGov survey, sponsored by tyntec, surveyed more than 4,000 participants aged 18-55+ in the US, UK, Brazil and Russia. To obtain the accompanying infographic, click here.

Brazil favours apps over SMS; Russia prefers Skype over Facebook

In addition to showing the highest mobile social connectedness, Brazil displays the greatest interest, with 71%, towards the adoption of free or low-cost calling and messaging apps like WhatsApp and Viber. Russia follows with 52%, while the UK’s response is 33% and the US, with the lowest number of respondents showing interest, at 14%. In response to the question of which messaging service is most used, nearly half (48%) of all Russians showed the highest degree of favouritism towards Skype over Facebook. Other key findings include:

  • Facebook Messenger is the most used smartphone messaging service in Brazil, at a 75% usage rate. Whereas in the UK, messaging services are split between WhatsApp with 50%, Facebook Messenger with 42%, followed by Twitter (24%) and iMessage (24%).
  • Brazilians are the most socially engaged, with 23% checking their Facebook via a mobile phone more than five times per day – more than any other country, including the US (17%), UK (16%) and Russia (2%).
  • 36% of UK respondents said SMS is their smartphone feature of choice, besides voice calls. Whereas Brazil favours apps with a 36% response rate.

Global fun facts: social etiquette variances by country

In addition to looking at country specific mobile/social preferences, tyntec’s survey demonstrates the impact cultural differences have on consumer behaviour.

  • Brazilians and Russians say the mobile phone ‘bad habit’ they’re most guilty of is sleeping next to their phone, with a 42% response rate in both countries. Conversely, only 21% of UK respondents and 15% of US respondents claim to go to bed with their mobile phone.
  • 19% of Brazilians consider texting while in a work meeting to be the rudest scenario, whereas the UK (9%) and US (8%) agree that texting while on a date is the worst. Russians (11%) believe sending an SMS while in a conversation with a friend is considered most impolite.
  • 18-24 year olds were asked if they’d be willing to give up alcohol, chocolate, caffeine, exercise or a toothbrush for one week rather than lose the ability to text for a year. 61% of UK Millennials would be willing to make the sacrifice.
  • In response to the same question, across all age groups, Brazilians are least willing to give up the ability to text for an entire year. According to the findings, only 24% of Brazilians are okay with not being able to send SMS for an entire year, compared to Russia (36%), UK (42%), and 55% of the US respondents.

“As a global company, our survey validates many of the mobile usage nuances we see on a daily basis with tyntec’s worldwide customer base, and we are eager to share the findings from this report,” said Thorsten Trapp, Co-Founder and CTO of tyntec. “It’s fascinating to see the rapid pace of adoption of messaging services and the mobile use of social networks in emerging markets like Brazil and Russia. In comparison, in more established countries like the US and UK we are reminded of the impact generational differences can make on mobile/social usage. It’s also very interesting to see that big Internet players like Facebook or WhatsApp are challenged by local heroes when it comes to favourite services for messaging.”

About tyntec

tyntec ( is a mobile interaction specialist, enabling businesses to integrate mobile telecom services for a wide range of uses – from enterprise mission-critical applications to internet services.

See the full survey results