Russians increasingly turn to online calls, as ‘blocked’ Telegram rapidly gains users
A new study by the professional services network Deloitte, reported by Kommersant, found that instant messengers are the most popular smartphone apps in Russia, as Russians pivot increasingly to making online rather than traditional phone calls. More than half of the study’s respondents (53 percent) say they’ve started using these Internet services more often in the past year. Overall, researchers found, as many as 35 percent of all calls in Russia are now made through online messengers.
The average Russian smartphone user has installed the following three messengers: WhatsApp (83 percent of respondents), Viber (61 percent), and Skype (53 percent).
Despite the fact that it is officially blocked in Russia, the Telegram messenger is rapidly gaining popularity among Russians, as well. In the past year, Telegram installations have jumped 15 percent, and roughly 40 percent of Russian smartphone users now have the app.
Russian officials technically started blocking Telegram in the spring of 2018, after the company refused to comply with “anti-terrorism” legislation that required it to share decryption keys with the Federal Security Service. Access to the messenger in Russia remains virtually unhindered, thanks to bypass technology devised by Telegram engineers.