Sending texts via an Instant Messaging App is a much more efficient method, unless you want to pay more by sending a SMS using your carrier services. With the recent changes in Mobile Internet connections in Iran, users can benefit from Instant Messaging Apps using 3G or 4G networks. But this is not the end of the story, something in the terms of culture has changed in Iran too. And the cause was Telegram.

Messaging Apps Boom

It was nearly four years ago when the first 3G network was introduced by Rightel (The third operator in Iran). But the other operators didn’t have the right to launch their 3G network until last year. The boom in Mobile Internet actually happened a year ago and it was massive, even the older generations wanted to have internet access on the go. Before the 3G boom, people only had access to internet in their homes so the usage was very limited.

It was only after the 3G boom that people could actually make use of their smartphones. Mobile Internet spread like a wildfire, literally everyone wanted to have Internet access on their smartphone. The first use of their smartphones was the Instant Messaging Apps such as: WeChat, WhatsApp, Line, Viber and Telegram. Before, people had to pay a lot to the operators for sending text messages, but now they could have the experience with much more features using 3G and 4G networks available everywhere. The key point in using Messaging Apps was the Mobile Internet access, people could send text messages using these apps everywhere. It was a great substitute for operator’s SMS services.


Messaging Apps Culture

The use of these kinds of applications were kind of different in Iran. Sure, people used it for personal text messages but after sometime it became a tool for spreading jokes and gossips around. Because mainly, it was a much cheaper way to communicate. Nearly in every household there was a smartphone and they could send pictures and multimedia contents to each other, something they never had before.


Telegram Era

We had been using many Messaging Apps as I mentioned before but Telegram was something different. It changed the people’s culture toward using these kind of applications. With the introduction of Channels in Telegram, the use of Messaging Apps changed dramatically. Messaging Apps were not that important, mainly because there was nothing important going on there. But Channels changed it all. Channels are a one way communication platform where there is only a broadcaster as a sender, so people who join the channel can only receive messages.

In this situation the broadcaster is the only one who’s creating content and defining the channel’s policy.

Creating the Channel concept was the origin of changing people’s behavior regarding the Messaging Apps. People started to realize the potentials of these apps. Channels gave many companies the ability to communicate with their customers directly. And this was only because of one little tweak, communicating through a one way channel. Now, companies have the access to a great channel of communication. Not to mention, nearly every household has at least one device with Telegram installed on it. And this was just the companies, many people in different professions have started using Channels to create quality contents for their readers. These Channels have covered nearly every field that you can imagine. Channels were a new chapter for Messaging Apps, and especially a new chapter for Iranians on how they should use these kinds of applications.

Another feature that added value to Telegram is Bots. Telegram’s definition of Bots is: “Bots are simply Telegram accounts operated by software – not people – and they’ll often have AI features. They can do anything – teach, play, search, broadcast, remind, connect, integrate with other services, or even pass commands to the Internet of Things.”. When you combine Bots’ features with the ways of messaging such as direct chatting, group chatting, Channels (broadcasting) you can create a suitable way of communicating with your audience.

Monetizing Telegram Channels

With this wave, many companies started creating their Channels on Telegram. From news outlets to famous brands, even boutiques have created their own Channels. Many people started creating channels on a subject that they like, and started creating content for it. These channels gathered many users and the subjects were very diverse. You can imagine the potentials of these channels. Companies could use these grass root Channels to advertise their channels. This wave created a market for Channels. Many middle man companies and advertising networks started to monetize this potential. They gathered comprehensive and crowded Channels and started working with them. So, whenever a client comes by to promote its channel, these middle man company would push the client’s Channel on the Channels that they are working with.

Right now Telegram is the most widely used Messaging App with 17+ Million users only on android devices in Iran. There’s even a Channel with 1+ Million users. This number is according to Cafe Bazaar, a local Android Market in Iran.

With Bots and Channels, Telegram is actually changing the concept of Messaging Apps, transforming it to more than just a Messaging App. With this number of users, Iran is the leading country in terms of Telegram users.

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Thanks for your article. There is really lack of good articles about messaging apps in Iran. There are a few things that you can add to this article to make it just perfect: 1- The number of telegram users in Iran: I think the number of active users of cafebazar isn’t a reliable index. As a substitute I recommend you the statistics that are released by ministry of ICT. For instance the statistics shows 14+ mil users in November(2015). 2- To show the extent of revenues in telegram, you can make a few examples. For example the price of an… Read more »