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  •  ChatGPT's timing aligned perfectly with the growing wave of interest and enthusiasm around AI in 2022, capturing people's imagination in the tech climate.
  •  The versatility and usefulness of ChatGPT have been key factors in its explosive growth, appealing to a wide range of users in various industries and professions.
  •  ChatGPT's free access and ease of use, coupled with its community-driven growth, have made it accessible to millions and fueled its rapid adoption as an AI chatbot.

OpenAI's AI chatbot, ChatGPT, has enjoyed an unprecedented and meteoric rise since its launch in November 2022.

Although the chatbot went public at a time when other AI tools like DALL-E and Midjourney were having a good run, ChatGPT somehow managed to attract the bulk of attention within the artificial intelligence space.

But how did ChatGPT amass so many users and publicity in a very short time?

Is ChatGPT the Fastest Growing App of All Time?

an line chart on a laptop screen

According to research by UBS analysts, ChatGPT is likely the fastest-growing app in internet history. The UBS research compared web application traffic data for apps launched in the last 20 years to the traffic at ChatGPT's official web address The data showed that ChatGPT had around 25 million daily visits, of which 13 million were unique (i.e., from different visitors).

Altogether, the research points out that ChatGPT has around 100 million users just 2.5 months after its launch. To understand how impressive those numbers are, it took Facebook 4.5 years, WhatsApp 3.5 years, Instagram 2.5 years, and Google almost a year to reach 100 million users. In addition, just five days after its launch, ChatGPT had its first one million users, a milestone that took Twitter nearly two years to achieve.

However, the release and meteoric rise of the Meta-owned Threads microblogging platform challenges this narrative. Threads by Meta gained around 100 million users in less than a week. Such a number is unprecedented in internet history, even surpassing that of ChatGPT. But there's an interesting caveat.

While Threads may have surpassed ChatGPT in terms of raw user growth numbers, ChatGPT's growth is more impressive and purely organic. ChatGPT had to attract users and build awareness from scratch, with no existing platform to leverage. Threads, on the other hand, gained an instant boost by integrating with Instagram right off the bat, giving it access to Instagram's vast existing user base of over one billion monthly active users.

While both growth trajectories are undoubtedly impressive, ChatGPT captured the public's attention and compelled 100 million sign-ups in a short time, completely on its own merits as a novel AI chatbot. In contrast, Threads was able to piggyback off Instagram's dominant platform and users from day one, giving it an artificial head start over ChatGPT's more organic viral success.

So, how exactly did ChatGPT achieve such an enormous feat?

The 3 Reasons Behind ChatGPT's Explosive Growth

Wondering what helped ChatGPT achieve such unparalleled growth?

1. Timing of the AI Wave

Man Holding Artificial Intelligence Sticky Note

While not taking anything away from ChatGPT's ingenuity as a product, its launch came at just the right time to ride the growing wave of interest and enthusiasm around Artificial Intelligence. AI had always been something that was relegated to the future—a subject of speculation for most of the internet-savvy public. 2022 saw AI go mainstream in a way never seen before, with advances like DALL-E 2, Midjourney, and other generative AI tools. People were primed and excited about AI, so when ChatGPT came along with a friendly interface anyone could use, it captured people's imagination perfectly. The timing aligned it with the tech climate.

2. ChatGPT Is Versatile and Incredibly Useful

People using a laptop

Two of the most important factors behind ChatGPT's explosive growth are its usefulness and versatility. OpenAI was not just able to create technology people wanted to use; they created something that almost everyone could find useful.

Think of it. When Facebook first launched, it was targeted primarily at university students, especially those who wanted to get to know each other. However, not everyone on campus wants to know who lives next door. Consequently, this meant a limited user base and limited usefulness at the time. Similarly, when Spotify came along, it targeted people who wanted to stream music online. Limitation? Well, not everyone wants to stream music.

On the other hand, ChatGPT is a general-purpose chatbot that is targeted at no one in particular. So, irrespective of what you do, you'll find different uses for ChatGPT in your day-to-day life. Teachers, students, engineers, legal practitioners, programmers, writers, CEOs—everyone. Being useful to everyone is a tremendous advantage very few apps can boast of, even years into their existence.

3. ChatGPT Is Free and Easy to Use

illustration of someone with money and computer

Something that hinders people from using an online service is the ease of use and cost. ChatGPT does not have problems in any of these areas.

While many people might not be aware, ChatGPT is not the first of its kind nor the most sophisticated AI text generator available. OpenAI's other AI text generator tool, available at the GPT Playground, is much more powerful and has existed long before ChatGPT went viral.

However, what makes ChatGPT different from the rest is its ease of use, accessibility, and zero cost to the user. Although ChatGPT Plus, a paid version of ChatGPT, was released on February 3, 2023, ChatGPT's free access model pushed ChatGPT to millions in just days.

On top of this, ChatGPT is incredibly easy to access. With a phone number and an email, anyone can sign up for an account from their browser, and that's just about what you need to start using ChatGPT. Similar AI tools from other companies are either accessible to a very select audience or require a lengthy waitlist.

4. ChatGPT Is Heavily Community-Driven

People using a laptop

One of ChatGPT's secret growth weapons is the fact that it's heavily community-driven. The growth of most of today's popular web apps can be attributed to extensive ad campaigns. On the contrary, ChatGPT's growth has mostly been powered by everyday users sharing their experiences with their community.

From social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit to people sharing their ChatGPT experience on personal blogs, ChatGPT's growth has been primarily pushed by testimonials of people who have used the AI chatbot. Ad campaigns can be effective when done properly, but nothing beats the effectiveness of recommendations and testimonials from trusted people.

5. Appeal to Human Imagination

Picture AI graphic with Black Box

ChatGPT captured people's imaginations regarding what could be possible with AI. It gave an accessible glimpse into an AI-powered future. The idea of having an AI assistant you can chat with naturally was instantly exciting and captured imaginations in a way no other consumer AI application had quite achieved before. This vision of the future drew people in.

Does ChatGPT Have Room for More Rapid Growth?

Though ChatGPT's meteoric growth has started to slow down recently, the product still shows tremendous potential for further adoption. While no longer climbing at the breakneck early pace, ChatGPT is poised to enjoy steady ongoing growth as its capabilities expand.

With OpenAI's constant focus on incrementally improving the chatbot experience, ChatGPT is sure to become an even more useful and desirable tool, driving continued user sign-ups over time.