Adoption of encrypted messaging apps Telegram and Signal reached new heights in Ukraine after its invasion by Russia on February 24, with installs collectively climbing 197 percent when compared to earlier in the year. Sensor Tower Usage Intelligence data reveals that usage of Signal particularly surged, nearly tripling during the ongoing conflict.
In the period from February 24 to March 20, Telegram and Signal collectively saw 1.7 million installs from across Ukraine’s App Store and Google Play, up 197 percent from 573,000 in the immediately preceding January 30 to February 23 period prior to the invasion. Comparing the same two periods, the apps also experienced growth among Russian devices at a more modest rate, with installs climbing 33 percent to 3.2 million from 2.4 million.
Although Telegram saw more installs in both Ukraine and Russia, Signal led in terms of growth. In Ukraine, Signal’s downloads surged 1,075 percent to 787,000 between Feb. 24 and Mar. 20 from 67,000 in the prior period; in Russia, the app experienced 286 percent growth to 425,000— up from 110,000.
Comparing the same two periods of time, Telegram’s installs climbed 89 percent in Ukraine while experiencing 17 percent growth in Russia.
To date, Signal has reached nearly 2 million installs in Ukraine—42 percent of which occurred in the 25 days following the start of the war—and 4.5 million in Russia. Since January 2014, Telegram has seen approximately 122.4 million installs in Russia and 30.7 million in Ukraine.
As with installs, Signal led in usage growth across the two periods studied in both Russia and Ukraine. Since the conflict in the region began, Signal has seen its average daily active users (DAUs) grow more than 184 percent in Ukraine and 81 percent in Russia when comparing the periods above. Telegram also saw an uptick in usage, with average DAUs climbing 9 percent in Ukraine and 15 percent in Russia.
In January 2021, Signal saw its installs climb 480 percent month-over-month in Ukraine. This was 595 percentage points lower than what it saw in Ukraine during the February 24 to March 20 period this year. Similarly, Telegram’s installs grew 4 percent M/M in Ukraine, which was 85 percentage points lower than the recent spike.
The mobile market provides a snapshot of user concerns and behaviors, and while it might not be a full picture, it offers a glimpse into what consumers value and need. In this case, it’s the ability to communicate freely during a turbulent time—one when more mainstream options they’re accustomed to have also become limited.