Tango hits 150M users as it ramps up its social engagement platform

Tango announced on Thursday it has hit 150 million users, cementing its status in the top tier of over-the-top (OTT) communications apps. Tango may be only half the size of the breakout WhatsApp, which recently announced 300 million customers, but like WhatsApp it’s been on a growth tear lately, adding 50 million new users in just six months.

Unlike WhatsApp and other messaging heavyweights, Tango built its communication platform on video messaging, which helped it establish a big base of users after its launch at GigaOM’s Mobilize conference in 2010. But more recently it’s been branching out into social networking and gaming, which Tango credits with much of its recent growth.

Instead of just using its app merely for peer-to-peer communications services, Tango started hosting its own social games within its apps last year. Those proved to be popular with customers so this summer it decided to make money off the feature. In June, Tango opened up its communications tools to game developers with the aim of making Tango a hub for connecting gamers and in-game communications.

Its first customer was Gameloft, but since then it’s added five more development shops as partners. To date a total of 10 games have gone live using the Tango communications network. According to the company, those games and other social features have led to surprising growth, including a 33 percent increase in user engagement, a doubling of the average number of messages sent and a seven-fold increase in the number of pictures shared on the network.

The mobile OTT space though is starting to mature as several clear leaders have emerged in around the world, WhatsApp, Viber, WeChat, Line and KakaoTalk among them. That meteoric rise and how those companies will continue to grow and evolve will be one of the discussion topics at GigaOM’s Mobilize conference in October. One likely option is consolidation, and due to Tango’s size it’s most certainly on many potential buyers’ radar screens. Mid-sized player fring was the first to get picked up, but a lot more and a lot larger acquisitions are probably on the horizon.