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Proof that Snapchat is Facebook's biggest threat yet

Snapchat is still growing rapidly, and clearly isn't a fad.

Asa Mathat for Re/code

Facebook has been able to contain prior threats, such as Instagram and WhatsApp, through acquisition or cloning. But Snapchat may prove to be the one that got away.

The most important thing about Snapchat is that it is still rapidly growing in popularity. That is, it’s not a fad. Snapchat is regularly in the top five most popular apps in Apple’s and Google’s U.S. app stores.

This chart from comScore shows that Snapchat’s penetration among all age groups has grown rapidly and continues to grow. Younger users — who often set communication trends — are its strongest set. Some 64 percent of U.S. smartphone users between the ages of 18 and 24 used Snapchat in late 2015, up from 24 percent in early 2013, according to comScore. Penetration among 25-to-34-year-old users increased to 31 percent, up from 5 percent in 2013.

Snapchat audience comScore chart

Audience size is one area where Snapchat is strengthening. But its addictiveness is another. Among 18-to-34-year-old users, it is second only to Facebook in time spent per month, according to comScore. And this seems likely to increase as well, as network effects make it more useful to more people, and as Snapchat continues to add more engaging features, including more video networks and better messaging capabilities.

comScore social network chart

Snapchat, of course, must still figure out how to build a large business to stay independent. But it is moving in the right direction — toward mobile video, just as Facebook has. Facebook is still, in many ways, on another level. But Snapchat is sticking around.

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