Jun 9, 2015 · 1 minute

Messenger is the next Facebook, and it has the downloads to prove it.

Facebook's David Marcus revealed today that Messenger has been downloaded more than 1 billion times on Google's Play Store. The only other company that offers an app of similar popularity -- and this shouldn't be a surprise -- is Google.

Pando has argued since 2013 that Messenger is going to be the next Facebook. But it's only been recently that Facebook has made it seem like it believes the same with a series of updates that separate Messenger from its social network.

As I recounted when Facebook announced that Messenger users would be able to make free calls (voice and video) to other Messenger users around the world:

First it expanded Messenger from a simple communications service to a legitimate platform on which other developers can build. At the same time, it announced that businesses can use the service to message with their customers.

Then Facebook allowed Messenger users to send money to each other, and later it brought the service out of its original website and gave it a new home on the web so people could use Messenger without feeling like they’re using Facebook.

Eventually the company could bring its new away messages to Messenger — making the service more like AIM and its counterparts of yore — so people wouldn’t even have to use Facebook to share status updates with their friends. Reaching 1 billion downloads shows that Messenger is more than a sideshow. Hell, when the only other apps with as many downloads are Facebook, WhatsApp, and Google's own software, it's pretty clear that this is a big deal.

Messenger is the next Facebook, and I'm pretty sure there are a billion Android users who agree with me. Like I wrote in that post: Facebook dropped its “The,” and now Messenger has dropped its Facebook. Apparently people like that.

[illustration by Brad Jonas]