Ranking the 5 Most Successful Apps in the Last 5 Years

The success of an app lies in its growth strategy. While many perfectly useable apps have come, the ones that have gone failed to adapt and move with technology.

So which apps have done this? We take a look at the most successful apps of all time based on downloads and see how they managed to stay relevant.


With close to 900 million downloads, Whatsapp is the most downloaded and one of the most successful apps in the last five years. It is a messaging service that is known and used around the world and is owned by Facebook, who have quite a few entries on this list.

What really gave the app a huge push in its infancy was the ability to call anyone using only Wi-Fi access. It has since gone on to add video calling, emojis, and text messaging to make it one of the most versatile communications apps available.


Tiktok bubbled under the surface for a while as an app predominantly used by teens. During the COVID crisis, its user base ballooned as adults got in on the craze, making it one of the top-rated apps in the world. It is primarily a video sharing platform in which users can dance or mime along to famous tracks or soundbites.

Owned by Beijing based Bytedance, it was only launched outside China in 2017. Since then it has made headlines for issues surrounding security, with Donald Trump believing it to be a method of international data capture. In recent news, Windows made moves to purchasing its foreign operations so it would be able to operate in the US.


The second entry owned by Facebook on the list. The app is a messaging platform that is an extension of the communications tool on the Facebook platform. However, it is standalone and you do not need Facebook to use it.

More than a standard text messaging service, it now includes video conferencing, games, and even classified advertisement pages within its core. In its last update, Facebook began a process of merging its Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram message systems.


The social media platform that changed the world shows no signs of stopping. It has grown from a college dormitory experiment to one of the biggest companies in the world. The fact that as a company it owns four of the five apps on this list, shows its influence.

How Facebook will proceed with its flagship social media platform is unknown. It is no secret that it is becoming less appealing to the younger generation as a move toward Tiktok and Snapchat has taken place.


The last entry on the list and another Facebook property is Instagram, the photograph sharing social media site. Instagram was launched in 2010 and as built-in cameras have improved on mobile phones, its popularity has soared.
In 2010 a picture of South Beach Harbour was the first shot posted on Instagram. By 2015 it had 40 billion pictures on. 2018 saw the platform reached one billion active users per month.

Most Succesful Up and Coming Apps

Snapchat, the rival to Instagram, is quickly approaching the top apps big five. Though it remains to be seen if it will be able to move the Facebook big four.

What will be the next big app? Will it be an online tier list maker? Another interactive video service such as Tiktok?

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