50 million users: How long does it take tech to reach this milestone?

For some of the biggest technological innovations of our history, we can measure success by at the level of users. Hitting the coveted 50 million users mark is a sure sign of triumph, but how quickly are top technologies taking to reach this magic number? 

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If we compare some of the biggest consumer products from the last 250 years, we can easily identify a trend. In today's tech-fuelled and tech-led world, top products are reaching high levels of consumers in incredibly short amounts of time. 

Old school tech

Back in 1874, Alexander Graham Bell delivered the first phone to the public (though the phone was truly first invented by Italian innovator Antonio Meucci in 1849). In 1877 the first telephone line was constructed, the first switchboard created and the first telephone exchange was in operation. It took 3 years for the phone to be in the homes of nearly 50,000 people.

75 years later the phone was in homes of 50 million people, on a global level. In comparison, it took the radio just 38 years to have 50 million owners and the television (something that was deemed as too expensive to really take off as a popular consumer product) as little as 13 years!

Communication tech revolution

These technologies truly revolutionised the way we communicate with and viewed the world. Then came the World Wide Web, in 1989. Invented by English scientist Tim Berners-Lee, the World Wide Web took the world by storm. In a short 4 years, 50 million users were surfing the internet. Once again, the face of communication technology has been reinvented. In fact, this could be regarded as the true beginning of today's interconnected world.

The rise of social

From the internet we got social media. Out of his Harvard dorm, a 19-year old Mark Zuckerberg released thefacebook.com in 2004. Today we of course know this as Facebook; the world's largest social media network with over 2 BILLION users! It took Facebook just two years to hit the 50 million mark.

Despite its popularity today, this is actually quite slow compared to other social media channels. Instagram took a little less than two years (around 19 months to be more precise). Interestingly it was not until Facebook's acquisition of Instagram (in 2012) that this number was quickly hit.

YouTube and Twitter were even faster, 10 months and nine months respectively. 

The rise of the app store

Amazingly, with the simple availability and popularity of mobile apps, reaching 50 million users seems to be getting faster and faster. Highly popular games such as Angry Birds or Candy Crush are doing this in less than two months! That's 60 days for one app to be downloaded by 50 million people.

If we were to put that into perspective, it would equal the the entire population of South Korea downloading downloading these apps in two months time. To date, the fastest downloaded app of all time is Pokémon GO. In 19 days, this AR game was in the hands of 50 million people. 19 days!!! 


We predict tech will continue to follow this trend. It won't be long until a new app is downloaded at such incredible rates that 50 million users will be reached in days, not weeks! We wonder what app it will be?