What just happened? It's no secret that Facebook and its suite of apps are popular, something that's best illustrated by looking at the most downloaded Android apps of all time. Just thirteen have been installed more than five billion times, and Facebook is the only non-Google company on the list. Now, another of the social network's properties, Messenger, has passed the milestone.
As one would expect, the five billion+ download club, according to Google Play, is dominated by Google's apps: YouTube, Maps, Gmail, and the like are found on most Android devices. The only entries not from the company's stable had been the Facebook app, which passed that number in 2019, and WhatsApp when it joined the list in early 2020.
Android Police reports that Facebook Messenger has just become the third Facebook app to have been downloaded more than five billion times on Android across its lifetime. It was never in doubt that the app would join its siblings in boasting this distinction; according to Statista, it has the second-highest number of monthly active users---1.3 billion---after WhatsApp's 2 billion (as of January 2021).
Apps downloaded from the Play Store more than 5 billion times
Mark Zuckerberg will doubtlessly be pleased to learn of Messenger's ongoing success. Unlike WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal, and several other rivals, it still hasn't received end-to-end encryption---that's set to arrive next year---yet the lack of such a feature has not damaged Messenger's popularity.
Facebook has long faced criticism over its lax attitude toward user privacy and security. It's also had to deal with being viewed as a social network for "old people," with the likes of Snapchat and TikTok considered "cooler" alternatives. Nevertheless, it continues to be a money-making machine and may find its download numbers surge once Facebook's cross-app messaging functionality is rolled out in full.